Centre retains GST on oxygen concentrators

Oxygen supply is one of the critical and important needs during the ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Finance Ministry to consider the possibility of exempting oxygen concentrators imported by individuals for personal use from integrated goods and services tax. The Finance Ministry has conveyed its inability to accept this order. 

The Delhi High Court has asked the government to review its resistance at such a critical time. As of now, there is a 12% GST on oxygen concentrator imports for personal use. The GST on oxygen cylinders were slashed from 28% to 12% and would be applicable till June 30. 

Late on Thursday, senior Counsel, Arvind Datar was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in a case related to GST on oxygen concentrator imports for personal use. The petitioner, in this case, was a senior citizen whose nephew had shipped him a concentrator. The case was in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution to question the tax on an item needed to ensure the right to life.

“We are of the view that since the respondent has gone this far, it 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,” the court said.

The Government counsel said that the maximum possible relief had already been given by reducing the GST rate. The court also said that the Government should consider the exemption for all such imports till the pandemic subsides. 

“Everybody doesn’t have a relative abroad, no? Suppose a judge of this court wants to import, he doesn’t have a relative. But he has a friend who says I will arrange it for you, but you bear the cost. Should the State, in these circumstances, be imposing a tax? How much are you gaining out of this collection?” Justice Shakdher asked the government counsel.

The government has fully exempted oxygen and oxygen-related equipment from basic customs duty and health cess for a period of three months.

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