Updated: June 2, 2021 2:19:43 am
The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed a Delhi High Court order which had held the 12 per cent Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on import of oxygen concentrators by individuals for personal use as “unconstitutional”.
Issuing notice on an appeal filed by the Union Finance Ministry, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah stayed the operation of the May 21 order High Court judgment till the next date of listing.
The High Court had said that the category of life-saving drugs also includes oxygen concentrators. It had quashed a May 1 notification by the Centre which reduced the IGST rate from 28 to 12 per cent.
Appearing for the Ministry, Attorney-General K K Venugopal said the GST Council, in its 43rd meeting held on May 28, had decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) to scrutinize the need for “further relief to Covid-19 related individual items immediately”. The GoM is to submit its report by June 8.
He said the High Court verdict trenches upon a pure issue of policy. Venugopal said the court did not consider that IGST exemption had been already granted to the states and other government agencies on the import of oxygen concentrators and that such exemption falls in a clearly distinct classification.
“Earlier the IGST was 77 per cent. We brought it down to 28 per cent and it was further brought down to 12 per cent but they still say that Article 21 is violated,” Venugopal said.
The plea in the High Court was filed by a Covid-affected man who claimed that his nephew had sent an oxygen concentrator for him as a gift from the US to ameliorate his condition.
He had contended that the May 1 notification was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, since the same is arbitrary and infringes the right to life of patients reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic.
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