Delhi High Court urges Centre to drop GST on imports of oxygen concentrators

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to drop the GST charged on imports of oxygen concentrators for personal use, just as it has done for donated COVID-19 relief material imports.

A High Court Bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh requested Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who appeared for the Department of Revenue, to place its order before Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and listed the matter for Thursday, by when the government is expected to revert with its decision.

Hearing a writ petition filed by senior citizen Gurcharan Singh whose nephew had sent him an oxygen concentrator from overseas in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court said this was ‘a rare writ action’ where a ‘notification issued in the realm of a tax statute has been, inter alia, assailed under Article 21 of the Constitution’ that enshrines the Right to Life and personal liberty.

The petitioner had challenged a May 1 notification that levied 12% GST on oxygen concentrators imported for personal use, compared to 28% earlier.

Also read: GST on imported oxygen concentrators slashed

“That tax is an exaction by the State is well known. That its levy and collection, ordinarily, does not encompass equity, is also, well known. But presently, we are living in difficult times and, therefore, perhaps, the petitioner has invoked Article 21 of the Constitution,” the Bench, which had requested the ASG to join proceedings on Tuesday, noted in its order.

When ASG Sharma informed the Court that the government has granted IGST exemption on oxygen concentrators imported by entities authorised by the State Government till June 30, the Court asked it to consider extending the same exemption to individuals too.

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“We are of the view that since the respondent has gone this far, it [the Centre] could move further, and extend the exemption, to even individuals, to enable them to obtain imported oxygen concentrators by way of a gift, albeit, without having to pay IGST,” it held.

On April 30, in view of the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases and shortage of medical oxygen in the country, the government had notified changes to the foreign trade policy to allow the import of oxygen concentrators for personal use through e-commerce portals, post or courier till July 31, 2021.

Customs clearance was to be granted without any import duties for such imports, but Integrated GST levies remain.

As per industry experts, an oxygen concentrator with a 10-litre capacity costs around $1200 in the global market and those meaning to import them for personal use as a back-up option in case suitable medical facilities are not available for COVID-19 patients, would have to fork out nearly $150 more as GST to clear these imports from customs.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 4:26:01 AM |

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