The imposition of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) by the Centre on the importation of oxygen concentrators by citizens for personal use was pronounced “unconstitutional” by the Delhi High Court.
The Ministry of Finance‘s May 1 circular, which stipulates that such oxygen concentrators imported for personal use, regardless of whether they are a gift or not, shall be levied an IGST of 12%, was overturned by a bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh.
The decision was made following a petition by an 85-year-old Covid-19 sufferer whose nephew had delivered an oxygen generator from the United States of America as a gift. Senior Advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, who represented the petitioner, asserted that the Finance Ministry’s implementation of IGST on personal-use devices contradicted Article 14 and curtailed the right to have oxygen, which was part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. He urged an ad-interim order allowing the oxygen concentrator to be imported since the claimed notification is likely to cause obstructions at the customs barrier. It was also referred before the Court that several commodities have already been exempted from IGST till July 31.
The counsel of the government contended that taxation cannot be litigated, and that the IGST was levied in this case to guarantee equivalence with a commercial user and to combat black marketing and profiteering.
During the trial, the High Court ordered that, in light of the ongoing Covid-19 health issue, the central government considered offering an exemption from IGST on oxygen concentrators imported for individual use as a gift.