NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday declared as “unconstitutional’ the Centre’s decision to impose Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on oxygen concentrators which are imported by individuals and said the Covid-19 pandemic is like a “George Floyd moment for the citizens of India” where the scarcity of oxygen, hospital beds and other medical equipment has brought out the best and worst in people.
“This is a George Floyd moment for the citizens of this country. The refrain is ‘I can’t breathe’, albeit, in a somewhat different context and setting; although in circumstances, some would say, vastly more horrifying and ghastlier. Chased and riven by the merciless novel coronavirus, the citizenry has been driven to desperation and despair,” a bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh said.
The death of George Floyd, an African-American man, had drawn widespread protests in the US last year after a video showed a police officer pushing him down and pressing his knee on the neck of the handcuffed victim who was heard saying “I can’t breathe”.
The bench said “scarcity of liquid medical oxygen, medicines, oxygen concentrators, hospital beds, ventilators, and other medical equipment, crucial for battling against the infection caused by the virus, has brought out the best and worst in people. We have messiahs. We have charlatans. We have hoarders.”
Asserting that oxygen concentrators are placed at par with life-saving drugs and medicines, the bench said, “We hold imposition of IGST on concentrators which are imported by individuals for personal use, is unconstitutional” and quashed the May 1 notification of the Ministry of Finance.