'No consignment pending': Centre replies after Delhi HC asks for status on 3,000 oxygen concentrators lying with Customs

The Finance Ministry on Monday informed that no consignment of 3,000 oxygen concentrators is pending with the Customs authorities.

The Ministry's response came after the matter regarding a consignment of 3,000 oxygen concentrators lying with Customs authorities came up in the Delhi High Court. It was clarified in the court by the Government Counsel that presently no such consignment is pending with Custom authorities.

As the social media has been flooded with the news that 3,000 oxygen concentrators are lying with Customs, the Ministry said: "We have again checked with our field formations and there is no such consignment lying with the Customs." "However, since a photograph has also been put on Twitter, if anybody has information as to where it is lying, the same may be informed to us and we will take immediate action," it added.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central government issued notifications exempting basic customs duty and/or health cess on imports of a number of COVID-19 related relief materials, for a limited period.

The Centre on Sunday announced various relief measures for taxpayers under the Goods and Services (GST) law in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In view of the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the statutory and regulatory compliances under Goods and Services Tax (GST) law, due to the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre has issued notifications, all dated 1 May 2021, providing various relief measures for taxpayers," read the release by the Ministry of Finance.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre about the status of the supply of oxygen to the hospitals in Delhi as per Supreme Court's directions, in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General, Chetan Sharma replied to the Delhi High Court that Supreme Court's directions are being honoured and it will be honoured to the best of our ability. He also informed the Court that apart from tankers etc, additional 6 containers are reaching Delhi carrying 20 metric tonnes (MT) per tanker.

The Supreme Court had directed Union Of India to ensure, in terms of the assurance of the Solicitor General, that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) is rectified within 2 days from the date of the hearing, that is, on or before the midnight of May 3, 2021.

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi Government informed the High Court about that the Supreme Court's order and apprised the High Court that transportation, mapping and others has to be taken care by the Central Government and deficit has to be dealt by the Centre.

During the hearing, one of the suppliers told the Court that he was forced to deliver more than which was required to be delivered.

A Division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said: "You (Batra Hospital) asked the suppliers to ask them to deliver more than what was provided. You cannot use force and seize the vehicle. If the same happens, the whole system will collapse." Batra Hospital assured HC that this will not happen in the future and we understand this as it is very critical for other hospitals also.

The High Court made it clear to Batra Hospital that such conduct will not be tolerated.

The High Court says if this kind of conduct is adopted by anyone, others will be affected and warns the Executive Director (ED) of the Batra Hospital to ensure that such conduct is not repeated in the future.

The hearing which went for hours will remain to continue tomorrow.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra on various issues arising out of rising Covid cases in the national capital. The matter was disposed of on January 14 but after the Covid raised its ugly head once again with vengeance, the court revived this in April again.

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