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Delhi HC Denies Interim Protection to Navneet Kalra

The court adjourned the anticipatory bail plea filed by Kalra for further hearing on 18 May.

Published
Law
2 min read
Navneet Kalra, who owns Khan Chacha and Town Hall restaurants in Delhi.
i

The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to grant any interim relief to Navneet Kalra in connection with the oxygen concentrator black-marketing case.

The matter was heard on Friday, May 14, by Justice Subramonium Prasad, who had also taken up the matter on Thursday evening. He asked whether Kalra could have held on to and sold hundreds of such devices without a licence under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, who appeared for the state, opposed Kalra's plea. He told the high court that it was "a clear case of black marketing by taking advantage of the needy amid the pandemic".

Earlier on Thursday, Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Garg had dismissed Kalra's application. He said, "Custodial interrogation of the accused is required to unearth the entire conspiracy hatched between him and many of the co-accused.” Following this, Kalra had moved the Delhi High Court.

According to the prosecution, Kalra, along with other co-accused, "hatched a conspiracy" to wrongfully make money by "inducing" the public to buy his oxygen concentrators at an "exorbitant rate" amid the COVID pandemic.

However, Kalra claimed that he was being "framed" based on social media content and the issue was being used to divert attention from more pressing issues.

Charges Against Kalra

A case concerning offences of cheating, disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant, criminal conspiracy, and violating provisions of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, has been filed against Kalra, following the seizure of 524 oxygen concentrators from his restaurants in the national capital. Four men were arrested during the raids while Kalra is absconding.

The case of hoarding the life-saving equipment comes at a time when the second wave of COVID is wreaking havoc across the country, with several reports of patients dying due to lack of oxygen surfacing nearly every day.

The prosecution asserted that Kalra had made "crores of rupees" by suggesting to those who needed the equipment, that his oxygen concentrators were "premium quality", "German-built", and "sufficient for two persons".

As per the investigators, evidence showed that oxygen concentrators that were bought for Rs 14,000-15,000 were later sold for over Rs 70,000. Kalra, on the other hand, said he had been “framed” and that the government had not capped the price of the machines.

The court adjourned the anticipatory bail plea filed by Kalra for further hearing on 18 May.

(With inputs from Bar & Bench and PTI)

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