Oxygen concentrator hoarding: Court order on ‘Khan Chacha’ owner’s anticipatory bail on Thursday

Oxygen concentrator hoarding: Court order on ‘Khan Chacha’ owner’s anticipatory bail on Thursday

Police personnel during a raid at Khan Chacha restaurant in New Delhi on May 7, 2021. PTI photo

New Delhi, May 12

A Delhi Court will pronounce on Thursday the order on the anticipatory bail plea filed by businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with the seizure of oxygen concentrators, required by COVID-19 patients, from his upscale restaurants including ‘Khan Chacha’ in the national capital.

Additional Session Judge Sandeep Garg reserved the order on the pre-arrest bail for Thursday at 10 am after hearing the arguments of both the prosecution and defense at length.

During a recent raid, 524 oxygen concentrators were recovered from three restaurants owned by Kalra and it is suspected that he has left Delhi along with his family. These concentrators are the crucial medical equipment used for COVID-19 management.

During the proceedings, Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava opposed the pre-arrest bail plea and told the court that Kalra’s custodial interrogation is required and that bail should not be granted as he is an influential person.

“His intention was to cheat the public at large and wrongfully gain. Had Delhi Police not busted the racket, many people would have been cheated,” the Public Prosecutor said.

Navneet Kalra, who is also the business owner of Dayal Opticals, started the business of oxygen concentrators “out of greed”, Srivastava said, adding that anticipatory or regular bail should not be granted in such white collar crimes.

The prosecutor also apprised the court about a lab report which showed that the seized oxygen concentrators are not working, have poor quality and their working capacity is only 20.8 per cent.

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, representing the accused, asked the court how his client can be accused of selling the oxygen concentrators at exorbitant prices, if there is no ceiling price fixed by the government.

“Prosecution’s allegation is that it is an essential commodity and Kalra was earning profit. There is no maximum retailing price fixed by the government till date. How will you decide if the prices are exorbitant?,” he questioned.

The senior advocate emphasised that selective leaks are made by the Delhi Police against Kalra and that he is being made a scapegoat to divert the attention from the “core issues”.

“Kalra will appear before the agencies within two hours, along with his phone if given an opportunity. In these difficult times, when the decogention is happening in jail, anticipatory bail can be granted to him,” he said.

Pahwa claimed that the case is a figment of imagination of the Delhi Police. “When all the recoveries have been made, they want to arrest me and have been opposing my anticipatory bail,” he claimed.

The counsel said that oxygen concentrators are not cosmetic and are used for medically unfit and dying people. “When we are selling it through banking channels, where is the offence?” he asked.

He said that even police officers, politicians, judicial officers and residential welfare associations (RWA) have purchased the concentrators from Kalra for emergency use and not for luxury.

The application was first being heard by Additional Sessions Judge Sumit Dass but was then transferred to Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Garg on Wednesday due to change in jurisdiction after the case was transferred to the Crime branch of the Delhi Police.

Another court will pronounce on Thursday morning the order on a regular bail application filed by one Hitesh Kumar, who is the employee of the ‘town hall’ restaurant owned by Kalra from where seizures were made recently. — PTI

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