New Delhi [India], Aug 13 (ANI): The Delhi High Court dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the Centre to classify masks and sanitisers as essential commodities, regulate their prices and reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on alcohol-based sanitisers.
The Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan dismissed the petition after finding no substance in the petition.
The PIL was filed by social activist Gaurav Yadav and advocate Aarti Singh, challenging an order of the Central government "excluding masks and sanitisers from essential commodities", and levy of 18 per cent GST on alcohol-based sanitisers.
The petition stated that the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs in not extending the notification dated March 12, whereby masks and sanitisers were classified as "essential commodity" under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
In a normal situation, the companies, offices and workplaces have started opening up for work and therefore, the workers, employees, labourers, etc, have to step out of their house for work and have to follow the safety rules including wearing masks, and using hand sanitiser in factories, workplaces and offices, read the plea.
Union Health Ministry had on June 4, 2020, had issued a standard operation procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in offices whereby inter-alia the use of masks and sanitisers in offices was made mandatory, it said.
On July 15, the Ministry of Finance clarified that sanitisers are disinfectants like soaps, anti-bacterial liquids, Dettol which all attract duty standard rate of 18 per cent under the GST regime.
It stated that inputs for the manufacture of hand sanitizers are chemicals packing material, input services which also attract a GST rate of 18 per cent.
"Reducing the GST rate on sanitisers and other similar items would lead to an inverted duty structure and put the domestic manufacturers at disadvantage vis-a-vis importers. Lower GST rates help imports by making them cheaper. This is against the nation's policy on Atmanirbhar Bharat. Consumers would also eventually not benefit from the lower GST rate if domestic manufacturing suffers on account of inverted duty structure," read the release by Finance Ministry dated July 15. (ANI)