As the country continues to grapple with the second wave of COVID-19, the Goods, and Services Tax (GST) Council in its meeting scheduled for May 28 may ponder upon and take a call on the on levy of 12 percent tax on import of oxygen concentrators for personal use. The meeting was scheduled after the Delhi High Court last week said that imposition of 12 percent Integrated GST (IGST) on oxygen concentrators for personal use or those received as gifts is "unconstitutional".
Last week, the court heard a petition filed by an 85-year-old challenging a notification dated May 1, 2021, issued by the Ministry of Finance stating that it would force payment of IGST of 12% on the oxygen concentrator, imported as a gift for personal use. A division bench comprising of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice Talwant Singh reserved orders in the plea after hearing Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and Senior Advocate Sudhir Nandrajog along with Advocates Siddharth Bambha, Shyam D Nandan, and Mr. Chirag Ahluwalia appearing on behalf of the petitioner.
The bench stated, "We've held that imposition of IGST on the oxygen concentrators imported by individuals and are received by them as gifts, for personal use is unconstitutional." It further added, "Given this declaration, notification no 30/2021 dated 1/5/2021 is quashed."
The statement of the court comes after the government on May 3, granted IGST exemption for oxygen concentrators imported by the State Government, or via any entity, relief agency, or statutory body, authorized by the State Government but did not provide any relief to citizens importing oxygen concentrators for personal use.
The press release by the Government of India dated May 3, read, "The Central Government had received a number of representations from charitable organizations, corporate entities, and other Associations/ entities outside India seeking exemption from IGST on the import of Covid-19 relief material (already exempted from customs duty), donated/received free of cost from outside India for free distribution. Accordingly, the Central Government has vide Ad hoc exemption Order number 4/2021 dated 3rd May 2021 has granted exemption from IGST on import of such goods received free of cost for free distribution for covid relief. "
The petitioner dissatisfied with the May 1 notification had filed a petition before the Delhi High Court. The case of the petitioner was that the imposition of any sort of levy by the state on the import of Oxygen /Oxygen generators or Concentrators for personal use abridges the said invaluable right and such imposition deserves to be struck down as being violative of Article 21.