Medical bills in hospitals across the country are skyrocketing, but Kerala may see a downward trend. In a major relief to in-patients, the Kerala High Court said medicines, implants and other materials used during procedures at hospitals do not constitute sale and sales tax cannot be levied.
Citing Supreme Court judgement, the full Bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran, Justice A Muhammed Mustaque and Justice Ashok Menon observed the sale, if any made, in the course of the treatment of a patient in a hospital, is with the sole intention of curing the patient. It is an inseparable part of the service offered at a hospital and does not intend to create any separate rights on such drugs, implants or consumables. The Bench passed the verdict while overruling a Division Bench verdict holding that the medicines and other surgical tools used during treatment at the hospital were taxable.
‘Hospitals can’t be said to be business houses’. The business expediency has no control in the administration of drugs, use of consumables or the implants carried out and neither does the control lie with the hospital, as a corporate or other legal entity.
“They’re done on professional medical advice intended at curing the patient and not deriving profits. Though not a charitable activity, hospitals can’t be said to be business houses established primarily for the sale of drugs, consumables or implants,” held the court.