"Policy Matter Of Govt" : Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Seeking GST Exemption For Medicines To Cure Spinal Muscular Atrophy
On Monday, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a plea seeking removal of levy of Goods and Services Tax on medicines to cure spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) stating that its a 'policy decision'.
The petitioner was seeking a GST exemption on medical treatment of patients suffering from SMA. He submitted that the the Drugs for SMA are prohibitively priced. One dose of Zolegsnama is Rs 17 crores. And, that the GST component itself would be upward of 2.5 crores, the plea averred.
"There is a policy already. This is a policy matter—what price it has to be sold for, will be decided by the government", a Bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar observed during the hearing.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that there's no specific exemption for domestic sales. "The omission is based on the assumption that all SMA medicines are imported."
Accordingly, the Court's order read as follows:
"Ultimately it is for the for the Government to take a policy decision whether to completely exempt any drug for treatment of rare diseases from levy of IGST, CGST, SGST or customs duty. No writ of mandamus can be issued for directing the Union to exempt drugs from payment of tax or duty.
The Bench also refused to take up the other prayer in the plea, requesting to allow all imports of SMA medicines without approaching the Centre of excellence.
"We cannot entertain prayer (b) which asks to import drugs directly without approaching Centre of Excellence. There are a number of reasons why the drugs are to be cleared by the Centre of Excellence. Therefore, the petitioners not entitled to any reliefs in the plea. Dismissed."
However, the Bench granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the concerned government authority with a representation.
Case Title: Cure SMA Foundation of India And Ors. v. UoI And Ors | WP(C) No. 1053/2022