Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/delhi-hc-holds-as-unconstitutional-imposition-of-igst-on-imported-oxygen-concentrators-for-personal-use/articleshow/82829692.cmsSynopsis
The Delhi High Court has ruled that the government cannot levy integrated goods and service tax (IGST) on oxygen concentrators that are imported by individuals and received as gifts, free of cost.
“We hold that imposition of IGST on oxygen concentrators which are imported by individuals and are received by them as gifts [i.e. free of cost] for personal use, is unconstitutional,” Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh said in a judgement issued Friday.
The Court has ordered that to prevent misuse, persons using concentrators in such cases would have to furnish a letter of undertaking to the officer designated by the state that the same would not be put to commercial use.
“Till such time an officer is designated by the State, it would be in order, if the importer were to address the letter of undertaking to the Joint Secretary, Customs and/or his/her nominee and handover the same to the officer detailed at the customs barrier,” the Court added.
The ruling was issued in a petition by 85-year old Gurcharan Singh seeking exemption from IGST on oxygen concentrator sent to him by his nephew residing in the US.
People importing oxygen concentrators for personal use had to pay 28% IGST till May 1, 2021, while oxygen concentrators imported for commercial use were charged 12% IGST. The rate for individual importers was brought down to 12% on May 1, through a notification valid till June 30.
“Given the declaration made hereinabove, notification no. 30/2021 dated 01.05.2021 is quashed,” the Court added.
On May 3, Centre had given full exemption from IGST on oxygen concentrators imported by the state government, relief agency or any other agency authoritsed by the state government. This exemption is valid till June 30.
The Court observed that the distinction between importers authorised by the government for relief and those importing for personal use was ‘manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair and wholly unsustainable.’
It also added that the government was not able to demonstrate that denying relief to the petitioner and persons similarly circumstanced would be in public weal or that the revenue the government would get from IGST in such cases would be ‘appreciably more’ than the cost incurred to administer the collection of IGST on such transactions.
Sector watchers lauded the Court’s decision on the grounds that levy of IGST becomes an extra tax cost for people importing it for personal use or if it is sent as a gift, thereby inflating the basic purchase cost.
“In the prevailing situation where the countrymen are running from pillar to post for oxygen cylinders, the Delhi High Court decision reinforces the Constitutional mandate under Article 21 which includes ‘right to health’ as an inseparable part of the ‘fundamental right to life’,” said Prateek Bansal, associate partner at White & Brief Advocates and Solicitors.
“Given the enormity of the pandemic situation and as a life saving measure and given that the revenue loss for the government may not be significant, the government may consider accepting the judgement and extending the benefit,” said Abhishek Jain, tax partner at EY.