Plea in Supreme Court Seeking GST Exemption For Medical Equipment, COVID-19 Medicines
A plea is filed before the Supreme Court (SC) wherein it was sought from the Court to direct the Central Government to invoke its powers under Section 11 of the Central Goods & Services Tax Act, 2017(CGST Act) to grant exemption from GST to drugs and medical equipment in view of COVID-19 crisis.The plea was filed by an NGO, Public Policy Advocates (applicant) as an application in the suo motu case initiated by the Supreme Court to examine COVID-19 related issues. It was filed for seeking exemption from the GST for COVID-19 drugs that also includes Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir, and medical equipment used for COVID-19 care.
It was sought from the Court to direct the Central Government to invoke its powers under Section 11 of the CGST Act 2017 to grant exemption from GST to drugs and medical equipment in view of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The plea reads that the GST Act empowers the Central Government to exempt goods or services, or both, from the tax leviable thereon on the basis of the recommendations of the Goods and Services Tax Council (Respondent) if it is satisfied that it is necessary for the public interest.
It was further mentioned in the plea that during the ongoing pandemic crisis the power of exemption is a public necessity as part of the commitment of the Welfare State to raise the standards of public health, as part of its commitment in the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
The applicant urge to the Court in its plea that the GST Council should be directed to convene a meeting expeditiously and direct exemption of GST with respect to Covid-19 related drugs including but not limited to Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir, and other drugs with the similar generic constitution.
It was further urged that the GST exemption should be given with regard to medical equipment including but not limited to Ventilators & Bipap Machines, and other medical treatment for infection prevention, control measures, and supportive care for Covid-19 patients including but not limited to Medical Grade Oxygen, Oxygen Concentrators, etc.
It was specifically pleaded that the remdesivir drug should be exempted 12 percent cost of the product charged as GST as it would decrease the cost of the product, and it will become more affordable to the common public which is in dire need of this critical drug.
The applicant pleaded that the Right to Health during a pandemic is of utmost significance and hence it is necessary to ensure that citizens get affordable healthcare facilities that also include important drugs that are necessary to fight with severe cases of illness.
The applicant highlighted concern over the black marketing of the necessary drugs and urged the Court to pass directions for preventing the same. It was further urged to the Court to pass directions to prevent hoarding of necessary drugs and other medical equipment.
It was pleaded that all the necessary drugs and medical equipment should be available to citizens easily and at an affordable price.