A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the lifting of the Good and Services Tax (GST) on life-saving drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir and others with a similar generic constitution used in the treatment of Covid-19.
The plea has been filed by founder of NGO Public Policy Advocates Pritika Kumar through Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Astha Sharma, in the suo motu case taken up by the apex court on the issue of handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It was contended in the petition that an exemption of 12 percent cost of the product charged as GST, which was otherwise leviable, would lead to a further decrease in the overall cost for the consumer, thereby making it significantly more affordable to the public.
According to the plea, “The ongoing pandemic is a textbook situation, when the exercise of 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, and to preserve and protect the Right to Life of countless citizens, who are suffering from moderate and severe COVID-19 infection.”
The plea accused the GST Council of showing total indifference by not recommending an exemption on such drugs and equipment.
Further, the petition sought the lifting of GST on medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, Bipap Machines, control measures and supportive care for COVID-19 patients during the ongoing pandemic.
Section 11 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act empowers the Central government to exempt goods or services, or both, from the tax leviable on the basis of the recommendations of the Goods and Services Tax Council, if the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary for the public interest.