The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Union government on a PIL seeking removal of the 18 per cent GST on sanitisers and 5 per cent GST on masks in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic.
The division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar posted the matter for further hearing to May 18.
The petitioner, S. Stalinraja, an advocate, has averred that the World Health Organisation instructed the best way to prevent the disease is protect ourselves with mask and by washing our hands or using alcohol based sanitisers rub frequently. Accordingly, the government of India instructed all members of public to compulsorily wear masks to prevent the disease , and use sanitiser to disinfect the hands.
"In India almost 23% of the people are below the poverty line and they are not in a position to afford essential goods such as masks and sanitisers. In these critical times, when our country is fighting against the coronavirus outbreak, the Hospitals, Ambulance, Nursing and support staff desperately require sanitisers and masks besides medical practitioners and the public at large, as a major preventive measure to keep away the highly infectious virus", he has submitted.
He has pointed out that at present the Government of India is collecting 18 % GST on sanitisers and 5% on mask. "We understand that certain ingredients are taxable, still in these difficult times or at least for next few month if GST is not levied on sanitisers and mask it would be a big relief for the people in our country", he has prayed against this backdrop.
He has iterated that he has earlier sent a representation via email to the respondents in this behalf but received no response.
"The respondents have failed to consider that it is their duty to protect each and every citizen of this country by all possible legal ways and also on goodwill under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The non-action of the respondents inspite of the representation would amount to dereliction of duty and also would amount to colourable exercise of power without any concern for the citizens of this country", he has argued.
It may be noted that the Supreme Court has on April 21 The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking exemption for face masks and hand sanitizers from Goods and Services Tax.
The three-judge bench headed by Justice N. V. Ramana had also pulled up the petitioner-advocate, saying, ""You are an advocate, and we think you do not have any work at this time. But it does not mean that you will file anything"