PIL in Delhi High Court to classify Masks and Sanitizers as ‘Essential Commodities’ and reduce GST Rates [Read Petition]

GST - PIL - masks - sanitizers - essential commodities - Taxscan

A public interest litigation (PIL) was on Friday moved in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the center to classify masks and sanitizers as essential commodities, regulate their prices, and reduce the GST on alcohol-based sanitizers.

The PIL, filed by social activist Gaurav Yadav and advocate Aarti Singh, challenged an order of the central government “excluding mask and sanitizer from essential commodities”, and levy of 18% GST on alcohol-based sanitizers.

The plea seeks directions to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Finance to reduce the GST rate of 18% on alcohol-based sanitizers to either 5% or 12%.

The petitioners are also challenging the decision of the Central government of not extending certain March notifications through which masks and sanitizers were classified as “essential commodities” under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and prices of the same were fixed at the rate of Rs.8, 10, 16 and 100.

As per the petitioners, the said act or the respondent is arbitrary, illogical, and will have a vast impact on the conditions of the general public.

The plea said that in a normal situation, the companies, offices, workplaces, etc have started opening up for work and therefore, the workers, employees, and laborers have to step out of their house for work and have to follow the safety rules including wearing masks and using hand sanitizers in factories, workplaces and offices.

Union Health Ministry had on June 4, 2020, issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in offices whereby inter-alia the use of masks and sanitizers in offices was made mandatory, it said.

It said that in the light of the recent outbreak of the COVID-19, advisories from healthcare professionals and institutions around the world were issued to citizens at large to continually disinfect their hands with sanitizers and soaps and cover their face with a mask as a measure to stop the spread of the said disease.

The plea is likely to come up for hearing before the Delhi High Court on August 11, 2020.

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