The Delhi High Court asked the Centre why high import duty was imposed on drugs essential to treat Mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus. It suggested waiving off import and customs duties on drugs used for the treatment of black fungus. The HC said that the drug is required to save lives from a disease that is afflicting thousands across the country.
"The same drug is required to save the lives of people suffering from a serious disease which is afflicting thousands across the country. We are of the opinion that the Centre should seriously consider a waiver of customs duty/import duty for the period while the drug is in short supply in India," said the court.
Central government counsel Kirtiman Singh stated that this order will be communicated to the CBDT and the Secretary Finance, and a decision will be taken in the next couple of days.
"We direct that if any import is made by any person for these medicines, the same must be cleared after filing a bond instead of payment of duty for now," said the court adding that the bond should stated that the importer shall pay the duties in case Centre decides not to waive off duties. "An assurance is given that the customs will clear consignment of medicines without any delay," said the court. The court also questioned if it is fair to levy 30 per cent import duties on the black fungus drugs.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh were hearing petitions regarding the COVID-19 situation in the national capital.
The court further stated that the government has to be on war-footing. "It has to be on war footing. Please understand that fight... every hour counts. We read it is available in Dubai, UAE," said the court, speaking about the drug.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday that the capital has 620 cases of Mucormycosis but Amphortericin B needed for the treatment is not easily available. "Day before yesterday and yesterday, we received around 400 doses, whereas in a day, one patient alone needs to be administered at least six injections of the medicine. So, if there are 600 patients, we need 3,500 injections daily, but are receiving only 400, which is leading to immense problems in its treatment," he said.
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