The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the Centre’s decision to impose a 5 per cent GST on wheelchairs, Braille materials and other equipment used by physically challenged people.
A public interest litigation petition said the levy violated the “right to equal opportunities” granted to differently abled people under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
The bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna initially expressed reservations about the court interfering in what lay in the domain of executive policy.
“Our only issue is that this matter lies in the policy domain of the executive. Otherwise, we have to hold that there can be no GST on any medical device, but we will certainly look into the issue,” Justice Chandrachud, who headed the bench, said.
“Our concern is mainly how to unshackle a policy matter,” he added.
The bench made the oral observations during mentioning time in the morning when counsel for the petitioner urged urgent listing of the petition.
A person using a wheelchair is facing discrimination from the government, the counsel said, with the tax levied merely for his use of the equipment for normal movement.
In contrast, a person who does not use a wheelchair has no liability to pay GST for walking, the counsel argued.
The contention of petitioner Nipun Malhotra is that in 2020, the apex court had, on an earlier PIL from him, asked him to make a representation to the GST Council to waive the tax on wheelchairs and similar equipment. He made a representation to the council but no action was taken, forcing him to move the apex court again.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing in September but did not specify a date.