Oxygen Black-Marketing: Navneet Kalra Remanded to Police Custody 

Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra was remanded to 3 days’ police custody by the HC in the oxygen black-marketing case

3 min read
Navneet Kalra, who owns Khan Chacha and Town Hall restaurants in Delhi.

On May 17, a Delhi court remanded the owner of Khan Chacha eatery chain, Navneet Kalra, to three days in police custody in a case of alleged hoarding and black-marketing of oxygen cylinders.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at the Saket District Court Archana Beniwal passed the order after Delhi Police moved the court seeking five days’ custody of Kalra.

The Delhi Police informed The Quint that while Kalra will be interrogated in custody, further investigation in the case will continue. Kalra was arrested by the police on the evening of 16 May from his brother-in-law’s farmhouse in Gurugram.


The Proceedings

During the proceedings on Monday, Inspector Gurmeet Singh told the Court that the Delhi Police had information on 524 out of 748 concentrators procured by Kalra. He said that details regarding the system of procurement of the oxygen concentrators were yet to be unearthed, for which Kalra's custody was required.

The whole society is looking at the investigating agency and the judiciary in this case
Delhi Police

The Additional Public Prosecutor representing the Delhi Police further informed the court that the Additional Sessions Judge of Saket Court had earlier held that custodial interrogation of Kalra was required and that the Delhi High Court had earlier denied him anticipatory bail.

On the other hand, Advocate Vineet Malhotra, appearing for Kalra, argued that Kalra’s custody was not required, as the Delhi Police was already in possession of his phone and bills of sale of the oxygen concentrators.

Black-Marketing of Oxygen: ‘Khan Chacha’ Owner Navneet Kalra Held

Businessman Navneet Kalra, accused in the case over black marketing of oxygen concentrators, was on Sunday, 16 May, arrested by Delhi Police, ANI had reported, quoting sources.

Kalra is the owner of Khan Chacha restaurant, from where a large number of oxygen concentrators had been seized in a raid by Delhi Police earlier in May.

On 6 May, the Delhi Police had received information about black-marketing of oxygen concentrators in some restaurants. Acting on the information, the police raided the Nege & Ju Bar, located at Lodhi Road Central Market. The cops recovered three dozen concentrators from there.

Kalra had reportedly bought the concentrators from Matrix Cellular, which had imported, for Rs 16,000 to Rs 22,000 each, and sold for Rs 70,000 per piece.

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

The FIR also slapped charges under the Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act for black-marketing of oxygen cylinders, which prescribe a maximum punishment of seven years.


Anticipatory Bail Plea Rejected

Kalra was reportedly arrested from Gurugram on Sunday late night and handed over to the Delhi Police Crime Branch, IANS reported, quoting sources. He had been absconding since 7 May.

Kalra had also approached the high court for anticipatory bail after the raids. However, the court had rejected his plea.

On Friday, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vikas Pahwa, who appeared for Kalra, argued that this was a case of harassment and punishment cannot be given to a person before fixation of price of an essential commodity

A sessions court had on Thursday dismissed Kalra’s anticipatory bail plea, saying the allegations against him were serious and his custodial interrogation was required to “unearth the entire conspiracy”.

Links With the Influential

Kalra reportedly has close links with several politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and several Congress leaders.

Investigations revealed that Kalra had made “crores” by selling the Chinese oxygen concentrators as premium German products. The police reported that the concentrators were of poor quality as many did not work and produced just 35 per cent oxygen, reported Money Control.

Kalra owns the Dayal Opticals Store, apart from a number of top-class restaurants. He belongs to an influential and powerful family. Kalra is married to Kitty, a fitness anchor for Hotstar and Airtel Digital, the daughter of Sirajuddin Qureshi, a prominent halal beef exporter.

Interestingly, just last year, CBI had conducted raids at Qureshi’s Hind Agro Industries Limited for allegedly cheating a consortium of banks of about Rs 222 crore.

Kalra is also said to dabble in real estate. Reports have suggested that he is under heavy debt.

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