Importers drag Centre to court over oxygen concentrators tax, claim ‘violation of rights’

Several importers have dragged the government to court for levying taxes on the import of oxygen concentrators and claimed that doing so breaches a constitutional right of every Indian.

As many Indians and companies decided to import oxygen concentrators amidst the domestic shortage due to Covid pandemic in the country, they were faced with Integrated Goods and Services Tax and customs duty. Currently, imported oxygen concentrators attract 12% IGST.
Only non-profit organisations registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) are exempt from the IGST when importing oxygen concentrators. Those gifted or imported by individuals for personal use attract 12% IGST, which was recently lowered down from 28% by the government.

Importers are claiming too much discrepancy on the GST rate depending on who is importing it.

And this comes at a time when the country is literally gasping for air amidst the steep rise in Covid cases and is akin to breaching the right of Indians to breathe.

“The moot point is that oxygen concentrators are essential items for survival in this pandemic and right to breathe is an integral part of right to life enshrined under article 21 of the Constitution,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, partner at Khaitan & Co, who is representing the importers. A writ petition in this regard was filed on Monday in the Bombay HC.

Many individuals who want to import oxygen concentrators for personal use also must pay IGST. As do those Indians whose relatives or loved ones are gifting them oxygen concentrators from abroad.

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