India’s Supreme Court on Monday heard a writ petition challenging the imposition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on assistive devices for persons with disabilities.
The petitioner submitted that a normal person needs not to pay tax for walking; however, a disabled person needs to pay a 5% tax for walking.
The Attorney General said that while he understood the petitioners’ difficulties at a humanitarian level, mere tax imposition cannot be held to be infringing the fundamental rights to warrant judicial interference.
The Counsel on behalf of the petitioner argued that the imposition of tax resulted in denial of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and created barriers for them to access the resources available to other people.
The GST on mobility aids was also a violation of the guarantee of equal opportunities made by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, he added.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, and Indira Banerjee granted the petitioner liberty to move a representation with the GST council for zero GST on mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices.
Justice Chandrachud said that the court had doubts about whether it can interfere with a policy decision to impose the tax.
The writ petition is posted after three months to await the decision of the GST council.