New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a decision of the Jammu and Kashmir high court that directed insurers to quickly settle claims of those affected by the recent floods in the state, citing humanitarian grounds.

The high court, which is functioning from the house of one of the judges, ordered insurance companies to pay 95% of the cover in case of policies that are less than 25 lakh and 50% in policies above that.

Although the outlay for settling claims would be around 500-700 crore, applying the formula of the high court will increase it to more than 4,000 crore, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court.

Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, however, said any intervention by the Supreme Court will adversely affect the people who have already suffered because of the natural disaster.

Lawyer M.N. Krishnamani, who represented the insurers, requested the apex court to reduce the percentage of claims payable from 95% to 50% and 50% to 30%, respectively, a plea that was declined by the three-judge bench.

The National Insurance Co. Ltd, New India Assurance Co. Ltd, United India Insurance Co. Ltd and Oriental India Insurance Co. Ltd had received a total of 9,917 claims worth 980.49 crore till 9 October, the court was informed. Out of this, the insurers have processed only 25.10 crore worth of claims.

The court also heard public interest litigations (PILs) on the status of flood relief in the state. Jammu and Kashmir’s advocate general Mohammad Ishaq Qadri assured the Supreme Court that the state’s high court will resume functioning in its premises from Monday so that it is in a better position to monitor the relief efforts. He claimed that more than 95% of the affected people have access to drinking water and electricity has been restored in at least 50% of the affected areas.

The PILs have requested the apex court to monitor the relief efforts in Jammu and Kashmir. Lawyer Colin Gonsalves, who represented Vasundhara Pathak Masoodi, one of the petitioners, drew the court’s attention to the “creeping crisis" with the approaching winter as about 100,000 houses had been destroyed due to the floods and the process of reconstruction has not yet begun.

The court also asked all the parties to go through the report submitted by a five-member committee it had constituted to assess the situation in flood-affected areas.

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