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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Thursday joined the healthcare industry in strongly opposing the proposed service tax hike in the budget, saying that it will adversely affect the common man.

‘It has come to the notice of the commission through media reports that the centre proposes to introduce a five percent service tax on healthcare services, thereby bringing the diagnostic services and hospitals, having 25 beds or more with centralised air conditioner system, in the tax net,’ the NHRC statement said.

 Excise duty on medicines is proposed to be increased from four to five percent, which may make medicines costlier. In addition to this, for the first time, traditional medicines are also proposed to be brought within the ambit of excise duty, the statement said.

 ‘The commission hopes that the government may not go ahead with any such proposal which shall affect the healthcare to the common man. The commission is of the view that any tax, adversely affecting the human rights of the poor and the needy, may not be imposed,’ it added.

 The healthcare industry strongly opposed the proposed service tax hike with Devi Shetty, one of the country’s renowned heart surgeons, writing an open letter, calling the levy ‘unfortunate’ and seeking observance of March 12 as ‘Misery Day’ to protest it.

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