Oxygen concentrator hoarding: Delhi court grants bail to businessman Navneet Kalra – Mint

The Delhi Court on Saturday granted bail to businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with a case relating to the hoarding of oxygen concentrators in a restaurant in South Delhi.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg has directed the accused not to contact the customers to whom he had sold the concentrators, not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses, and join the investigation as and when called by the police.

During a recent raid, 524 oxygen concentrators, which are crucial medical equipment used for COVID-19 patients, were recovered from Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju restaurants owned by Kalra. The restaurateur is in judicial custody till June 3.

Earlier, Kalra, through senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, told the court that he had no criminal intent to cheat people and cannot be kept in pre-trial detention.

Garg heard the bail application filed by the businessman who was arrested on May 17 for allegedly hoarding oxygen concentrators and selling them at inflated prices.

“His intention was to cheat people and make profit. This is a white-collar crime. He sold oxygen concentrators to needy people lying on death beds,” additional public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, representing the Delhi Police, told the court and sought rejection of Kalra’s bail plea.

During the course of the proceedings today, the prosecutor showed Kalra’s oxygen concentrator brochures to the court, and said they were not premium or from Germany as claimed by the accused.

“Its flow was also below 35 per cent, and he sold it for more than 70,000 as against the MRP of 27,999,” he added.

On Kalra’s contentions that he was merely helping those in need, the prosecutor said, “He was not doing any charity. If he had sold them at the cost price, it would have been a charity but he took a margin.”

The police further relied on a report by the Sriram Institute for Industrial Research on the oxygen concentrators’ efficacy and submissions of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Shrivastava said the doctors opined that the oxygen concentrators were not suitable for treatment of COVID-19 patients due to their low efficacy.

“It is useless and as good as a box. Using them for even mild and moderate patients would cause harm. It will accelerate death,” the additional public prosecutor said.

He further apprised the court about the gravity of the offence and sought rejection of bail on the grounds that the businessman tampered with evidence, deleted material from the device and gave a bad name to the society.

The police have claimed that the concentrators were imported from China and were being sold at an exorbitant price of 50,000 to 70,000 a piece against its cost of 16,000 to 22,000.

On May 5, a case was registered against Kalra under sections 420 (cheating), 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, the Essential Commodities Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a money laundering case against him.

With agency inputs

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