The Madras High Court has issued notice to the Union government on a PIL seeking removal of the 18 per cent GST on sanitizers and 5 per cent GST on masks in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic.
Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar posted the matter for further hearing to May 18.
The petitioner, Advocate S. Stalinraja has highlighted that the World Health Organisation instructed the best way to prevent the disease is protect ourselves with mask and by washing our hands or using alcohol based sanitizers rub frequently.
He, while seeking exemption from GST further submitted,
“In India almost 23% of the people are below the poverty line and they are not in a position to afford essential goods such as masks and sanitizers. In these critical times, when our country is fighting against the coronavirus outbreak, the Hospitals, Ambulance, Nursing and support staff desperately require sanitizers and masks besides medical practitioners and the public at large, as a major preventive measure to keep away the highly infectious virus”
He further pointed about the GST on these essentials and stated,
“We understand that certain ingredients are taxable, still in these difficult times or at least for next few months if GST is not levied on sanitizers and mask it would be a big relief for the people in our country”
He has argued “The respondents have failed to consider that it is their duty to protect each and every citizen of this country by all possible legal ways and also on goodwill under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The non-action of the respondents inspite of the representation would amount to dereliction of duty and also would amount to colourable exercise of power without any concern for the citizens of this country”.
The three-judge bench headed by Justice N. V. Ramana had also pulled up the petitioner-advocate, saying, “”You are an advocate, and we think you do not have any work at this time. But it does not mean that you will file anything”
The Supreme Court had already dismissed a PIL seeking exemption for face masks and hand sanitizers from Goods and Services Tax.