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Supreme Court Asks Petitioner Challenging Levy Of GST On Hand Sanitizers Under Same Tariff Heading As Insecticides To Approach HC

Mehal Jain
18 Nov 2020 9:05 AM GMT
Supreme Court Asks Petitioner Challenging Levy Of GST On Hand Sanitizers Under Same Tariff Heading As Insecticides To Approach HC
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday required the petitioner challenging the levy of GST on hand sanitisers under the same Tariff Heading as insecticides etc to approach the High Court.

"This is the concern of manufacturers all over India. Sanitizer is being treated as an insecticide. But it is not an insecticide. I have come under 32 before Your Lordships", advanced the counsel for the petitioner.
"32 is available to all. But every matter cannot be entertained under 32. You are espousing the cause of manufacturers as a public interest? How is this a PIL?", asked Justice A. M. Khanwilkar.

When the advocate clarified that he was before the Court in a writ petition, Justice Khanwikar observed, "This is an issue of classification of items under different heads. That is case-specific and a general direction cannot be issued. Whether sanitisers, insecticides etc should be classified in one head would depend on contents and other factors. Go to the High Court, if you want. We cannot issue a writ in this matter"

"Should we make an observation that a general direction can't be given because the issue is item-specific?", asked the judge. At this, the advocate sought to withdraw the petition, which was allowed by the bench, also comprising Justices B. R. Gavai and Krishna Murari, granting him liberty to move the appropriate forum.
Know the Law

The controversy regarding levy of GST on sanitizers is primarily concerned with two Tariff Headings—3808 and 3004.

The former relates to disinfectants, apart from insecticides, herbicides, plant-growth regulators, etc. and attracts the GST rate of 18%, while the latter relates to Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses and attracts the GST rate of 12%.

The sanitizer manufacturers/ importers have stressed on the need to reclassify sanitizers as "Medicaments" given that it is being used as a protection from Coronavirus. The Union Finance Minister on the other hand had clarified in July that hand sanitizers are "disinfectants" like soaps, anti-bacterial liquids, etc. which attract 18% GST


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