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.
Kalra,the main accused in the black marketing of oxygen concentrators case, had applied for bail in the city’s Saket court on Wednesday.
The Delhi Police submitted before the chief metropolitan magistrate Arun Kumar Garg that Kalra’s bail plea ought to be rejected as he has “ruined the name of our society”.
However, the court released Kalra on bail subject to furnishing of personal bond of two sureties each of Rs 1 lakh.
The court further directed the accused not to contact the customers to whom he sold the concentrators, not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses, and join the investigation as and when summoned by the police.
During the hearing, Kalra’s counsel senior advocate Vikas Pahwa told the court that his client had no criminal intent to cheat people and cannot be kept in pre-trial detention. He submitted that Kalra was being accused of black marketing when he had sold the oxygen concentrators for Rs 60,000 whereas e-commerce portals like Amazon and Indiamart are selling them at inflated rates of Rs 89,000-95,000.
Rebutting the police’s claim that the devices, bought from China at Rs 20,000-25,000, were being sold for Rs 70,000 apiece via an online portal, Pahwa stated that Kalra had been helping his friends and those in need. In fact, he added, Kalra sold the concentrators at a lower price than others. The senior lawyer clarified that his client and co-accused Matrix Cellular were not the only ones to have imported oxygen concentrators from China
APP Atul Shrivastava, appearing for the Delhi police, countered that Kalra, a restaurateur, had no business selling oxygen concentrators amid the dire pandemic scenario. He pointed out that Kalra had been hoarding the devices at his restaurants Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju, and sold them at arbitrary 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,” the prosecutor informed the court.
Shrivastava apprised the court about the gravity of the offence and sought rejection of bail on the grounds that Kalra tampered with evidence, deleted material from the device and gave a bad name to society.
Kalra has been in the Delhi police’s custody since he was arrested on Sunday by the crime branch after reportedly “absconding”. The police sought custody for five days but the court granted only three days of custody. He has been accused of hoarding and black marketing oxygen concentrators in Delhi amid the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, 524 oxygen concentrators were recovered from three restaurants owned by Kalra, including the popular Khan Chacha in Khan Market. He was named as the main beneficiary of the cheating, hoarding and conspiracy case filed by the police.