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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Delhi High Court to Centre: Consider waiving import duty on black fungus drug

The court also said the gap between supply and demand of the medicine is widening every hour. "It has to be on war footing. Please understand the fight we have on our hands. Every hour counts," it observed.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 28, 2021 12:28:30 am
The court also said that the gap between supply and demand of the medicine is widening every hour. (File)

Directing the Centre to seriously consider waiving the duty on the import of amphotericin B, the drug being used for treatment of black fungus, the Delhi High Court Thursday allowed the medicine’s conditional duty-free import by people till pendency of a government decision on the issue.

The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh asked the Centre if it was fair for it to levy these kind of duties even after the recent HC judgment, which held the imposition of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on oxygen concentrators, which are being imported by individuals and received by them as gifts for personal use, as unconstitutional. There should be no bottleneck on import, added the bench.

“Considering the fact that the said drug is required to save lives of people suffering from a serious disease which is inflicting thousands of people all over the country, we are of the view that the central government should seriously consider waiver of complete customs and other duties and levies on the import of the said drug at least for the period that the same is in short supply in India and is required to treat the disease mucormycosis,” said the court.

Observing that it is hopeful the Centre will take the decision, the court ordered that if any import of the medicine is made by any person, the same be accepted on the basis of a bond, to the effect that duty shall be paid if the same is not waived, by the importer without actual payment of duties till a final decision is taken.

The court also said the gap between supply and demand of the medicine is widening every hour. “It has to be on war footing. Please understand the fight we have on our hands. Every hour counts,” it observed.

During the hearing, the central government assured the court that the medicine being imported for Covid-19 and black fungus treatment will be cleared expeditiously by Customs. The Delhi government on Thursday told the court there are 613 black fungus patients in the capital’s hospitals, including 188 who have come from other states.

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Iqra Khalid on behalf of her 80-year-old grandfather, Laieq Ahmad Siddiqui, who has been battling black fungus at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital since May 18 and was unable to receive the vials from anywhere since May 21.

Siddiqui’s allocation for 18 vials has been received for three days on May 25, the court was told on Thursday. Khalid told the court that because he missed one dose on May 23, the infection spread to his sinus and orbit, causing two bones to be removed. “Now if he misses a single dose, it will be very hard for him to sail this through,” she submitted.

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