The Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered that customs departments should clear the import of Amphotericin-B, the drug used to treat mucormycosis or “black fungus”, by accepting a bond from the importer without actual payment of import duty, till the Centre makes a final decision on a waiver, reported Live Law.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh also directed the Centre to consider waiving import duty on the medicine while it remains in short supply. “The bond [given] to the effect that duty shall be paid if the same is not waived,” said the High Court, reported The Indian Express.
The order came on a plea filed by advocate Iqra Khalid whose grandfather was in need of the drug for the treatment of the fungus infection. The High Court was considering the shortage of the Amphotericin-B and a possible mechanism for its procurement to treat people infected by black fungus.
“Black fungus” disease is caused by a fungus named mucor, which is found on wet surfaces. The symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion, and partial loss of vision, among others. It mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness and most commonly affects the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is a shortage of the drug to treat the fungal infection. On Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that there were around 620 cases of mucormycosis in the national Capital as well as a shortage of Amphotericin-B.
During the hearing on Thursday, the High Court also took on record the submission of Advocate Nidhi Mohan Parashar, representing the Centre, that customs will clear all consignments of the medicine without any delay.
Citing a judgement passed by the High Court on waiving Integrated Goods and Services Tax in the import of oxygen concentrators for individual needs, the bench asked the Centre if it was fair to levy duties on Amphotericin-B.
“You should completely waive it,” the High Court said. “Just like you waive it for two months for some products, do it for this also. There cannot be a bottleneck.”
To this, Parashar replied that the Centre will try to do it expeditiously.