Khan Chacha Owner Navneet Kalra, Accused Of Covid Profiteering, Gets Bail

Delhi Police recently recovered 524 oxygen concentrators from restaurants owned by Mr Kalra and said they were being sold at exorbitant prices.

The businessman, who was on the run, was caught in Gurgaon on May 16. File

New Delhi:

A Delhi court today granted bail to businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with a case relating to the hoarding of oxygen concentrators and selling them at exorbitant prices.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg asked Mr Kalra to furnish a personal bond and two surety bonds of Rs 1,00,000 each.

The bail conditions include that the accused shall not try to influence witnesses, contact customers he sold the concentrators to and join the probe as and when directed by the investigating officer.

Delhi Police had recovered 524 oxygen concentrators from Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju restaurants owned by Mr Kalra and said they were being sold at exorbitant prices. On May 5, a case was registered against Mr Kalra under Section 420 (cheating), 188 (disobedience to order enforced by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.

The businessman, who was on the run, was caught in Gurgaon on May 16 and formally arrested the next day.

According to the order, Mr Kalra's counsel Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa said the accused has been falsely implicated and that the police had not received any complaint from those who purchased the oxygen concentrators.

Mr Pahwa claimed that the police are now trying to persuade the customers into registering complaints against Mr Kalra. The defence counsel said most of the concentrators were sold by Mr Kalra below MRP and only 5-10 units were sold at Rs 7,000-10,000 above MRP to provide some customers warranty as the company was not providing any such warranty.

The accused, Mr Pahwa said, had not made any representation about the country of origin of the concentrators or about their quality.

Responding to the prosecution stand that the concentrators are of a sub-standard quality, the defence counsel asked why then have the seized concentrators been released to covid care centres and hospitals.

Mr Pahwa submitted that the accused has been in custody for more than 12 days and pointed to the Supreme Court ruling that in India bail is a rule and jail is an exception.

The prosecution contended that the case is at a nascent stage and the grant of bail can hamper the investigation. Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava submitted that the accused sold sub-standard and useless devices under the garb of selling premium oxygen concentrators.

He further said that the fact that this act has been amid the grim situation arising out of Covid when people are dying due to non-availability of oxygen makes the offence more grave and it should not be considered to be a simple case of cheating.

He further submitted that it has been opined by the expert committee of doctors of AIIMS, Delhi and Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and family Welfare that the concentrators which were being sold by the accused were not only useless for Covid patients but could also have caused harm.

Pointing out that the accused had avoided joining the investigation earlier, the prosecution counsel said he may

Mr Srivastava further said that he may abscond if granted bail. The prosecution also said the accused has links with influential persons and the possibility of tampering with evidence cannot be ruled out.

The court said in its order that the case is primarily based on the documentary evidence and since all relevant documents have been seized, there is no substance in the plea that the accused may tamper with the evidence.

It further said that the accused should not be denied bail merely because he did not join investigation while his anticipatory bail applications were pending as he had been seeking recourse to legal remedies.