New Delhi: The Delhi High Court 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.