Black fungus treatment: Delhi HC allows duty-free import of Amphotericin B

Insight Online News

New Delhi, May 27 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed duty free import of Amphotericin B, used for treating black fungus patients, on furnishing of a bond by the importers, till the final decision by Centre on waiving customs duty.

A bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said, “We direct that if any import is made by any person of this drug (Amphotericin B), it shall be allowed on a bond furnished by the importer without the actual duty being paid, till a decision is taken by the Centre.”

The bench observed that the medicine is essential to save lives of several thousands of people suffering from mucormycosis. In the backdrop of a shortage of the medicine in the country, the High Court emphasised that the Centre should seriously consider waiving customs duty for a limited period or till issues with shortage of medicine exist.

On the aspect of the bond for importing the medicine, the High Court said any person can import Amphotericin B and if any import is made by any person, it should be cleared by accepting the bond from the importer without actual payment of duty till the Centre takes a final decision in the matter. The court made these observations during arguments on a plea by a black fungus patient who was facing difficulties in accessing the medicine.

The Centre’s counsel cited a notification by the Centre on complete waiver of customs duty on all lifesaving drugs, if imported by an individual for personal use, and Amphotericin B is on the that list of drugs.

The bench cited the discussion was, if Delhi government were to purchase the medicine from abroad, it should also be duty-free, and asked the counsel to take instructions on this aspect. The bench stressed that it is hopeful that Centre will consider waiving the import duty.

Citing a recent order by the High Court, where imposition of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on import of oxygen concentrators by individuals for Covid-19 patients was held unconstitutional, the bench said the Centre should completely waive duty on black fungus medicine for a limited time at least.

The High Court added that if Delhi government were to procure the medicine from other sources, then it should not face any hurdles or be stopped.

IANS / AGENCY

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