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Plea In Supreme Court Seeks GST Exemption For Covid Drugs Like Remdesivir, Other Medical Equipments

Nupur Thapliyal
29 April 2021 1:24 PM GMT
Plea In Supreme Court Seeks GST Exemption For Covid Drugs Like Remdesivir, Other Medical Equipments
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A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions on the Office of GST Council Secretariat to exempt GST on Covid drugs including Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir and other drugs, medical equipments and medical treatment for infection prevention, control measures and supportive care for Covid-19 patients.The intervention application has been moved by The Public...

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A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions on the Office of GST Council Secretariat to exempt GST on Covid drugs including Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir and other drugs, medical equipments and medical treatment for infection prevention, control measures and supportive care for Covid-19 patients.

The intervention application has been moved by The Public Policy Advocates and has been filed through Advocate Astha Sharma in the suo moto case registered by the Apex Court to deal with COVID-19 related issues.

The Applicant seeks exemption under from GST in accordance with sec. 11 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, sec 6 of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and the corresponding equivalent sections in the State legislations governing States Goods and Services.

"..The Act empowers the Central Government to exempt goods or services, or both, from the tax leviable thereon on the basis of the recommendations of the Goods and Services Tax Council/Respondent No. 2 if it is satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest. The ongoing pandemic is a textbook situation when 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 infections." The plea states.

Furthermore, the application states that an exemption of 12 % cost on Remdesivir injection would lead to a further decrease in the overall cost of the product, thereby "making it significantly more affordable to the common public which is in dire need of this critical drug."

The plea also states that the power to exempt critical drugs such as Remdesivir, and other medical equipment are in furtherance of the"constitutional commitment of the Welfare State" to protect the Right to health of its citizenry. 

"The Right to Health in times of pandemic, assumes an ever more crucial significance since affordable healthcare and availability of drugs which are critical to fight moderate and severe cases of illness have to be given paramount importance. This would have the effect of preventing black marketing, hoarding of such drugs and other medical equipment, as well as would ensure that the same is available to the citizens at affordable cost. The power to exempt GST is in furtherance of the avowed objective and is critical to the preservation of the Right to Life of countless citizens who are in acute need of treatment, and are currently being treated in various hospitals across the country." The plea reads.

The plea seeks the following prayers:

-Direct Respondent No. 2 to convene a meeting expeditiously and direct exemption of GST with respect to Covid-19 related drugs including but not limited to Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir and other drugs with similar generic constitution, medical equipment including but not limited to Ventilators & Bipap Machines, and other medical treatment for infection prevention, control measures and supportive care for Covid-19 patients including but not limited to Medical Grade Oxygen, Oxygen Concentrators etc., as one of the agenda points.

- Direct Respondent No. 1, in the interim, to issue appropriate ad hoc guidelines, orders or notifications exempting Covid-19 related drugs including but not limited to Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir and other drugs with similar generic constitution, medical equipment including but not limited to Ventilators & Bipap Machines, and other medical treatment for infection prevention, control measures and supportive care for Covid-19 patients including but not limited to Medical Grade Oxygen, Oxygen Concentrators etc., from GST with immediate effect.

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