A court in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar district on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against the owners of a private agency and a laboratory allegedly involved in a fraud related to Covid-19 testing at this year’s Kumbh Mela, PTI reported.

The Kumbh Mela took place in Haridwar between April 1 and April 30. Lakhs of pilgrims had participated in the festival despite a huge surge in Covid-19 cases in India during the time.

A Noida-based private agency called Max Corporate Services had been given the contract to test devotees for coronavirus at the annual festival. The agency then outsourced the work to Nalwa Labs in Haryana’s Hisar district and Delhi’s Lalchandani Labs, according to PTI.

These three firms, along with two others, have been accused of making fake entries and generating bogus bills though they hardly conducted any tests, PTI reported. A special investigation team is conducting an inquiry into the scam.

In June, the Uttarakhand government had directed the Haridwar district authorities to register a case against the private laboratories.

“The warrants [issued on Saturday] are against Sharat Pant [and] Mallika Pant, two partners in Max Corporate Services, and Nalwa Labs’ partner Navtej Nalwa,” an unidentified official from the special investigation team told The New Indian Express.

The police have sent teams to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to conduct raids, The Times of India reported.

“After getting the NBWs [non-bailable warrants] from the court, we are trying to arrest the three main accused,” Senthil Avoodai Krishna Raj S, the senior superintendent of police of Haridwar, said.

The Enforcement Directorate is also investigating the matter. On August 6, it had raided the premises of Novus Path Labs, DNA Labs, Max Corporate Services, Dr. Lalchandani Labs and Nalwa Labs in Dehradun, Haridwar, Delhi, Noida and Hisar.

Also read: Kumbh Mela: ED raids offices of labs allegedly involved in Covid testing scam

The agency alleged that the labs used a “single mobile number or a false mobile number, single address or same specimen referral form (SRF) for multiple persons for showing the inflated numbers of coronavirus testing without actually doing the testing”.

The Enforcement Directorate added that fraud by these laboratories led to a lower Covid-19 test positivity rate being recorded at Haridwar – 0.18% as against an actual rate of 5.3%. Positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of those who have been tested overall.

In June, the Uttarakhand Police had filed a case against Lalchandani Labs, Nalwa Labs and Max Corporate Services under charges of spreading disease, cheating and criminal conspiracy, and negligence under sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.