A Delhi court on Monday sent businessman Navneet Kalra to three days’ police custody in connection with a case of alleged hoarding and black marketing of oxygen concentrators, Live Law reported. On Sunday night, Kalra was arrested from his brother-in-law’s farmhouse in Gurugram, according to The Indian Express.
Kalra, the owner of multiple famous eateries in Delhi, has been on the run since the police first raided his properties earlier this month and seized over 500 oxygen concentrators.
On Monday, the Delhi Police sought five days’ custody of Kalra. Inspector Gurmeet Singh told the court that the police had information on 524 concentrators procured by Kalra. Singh added that Kalra’s custody was required to unearth how he managed to procure the medical equipment, Bar and Bench reported.
Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava pointed out that a sessions court had earlier held that custodial interrogation of Kalra was required in the matter and that Delhi High Court had denied him anticipatory bail. Kalra had first moved a sessions court for anticipatory bail but it was denied on May 13. He then approached the High Court, which also refused to grant him interim protection from arrest.
Meanwhile, Advocate Vineet Malhotra, appearing for Kalra contended that custody was not required as the police were already in possession of his phone and bills of sale of the oxygen concentrators. However Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at the Saket District Court Archana Beniwal granted police custody of Kalra for three days.
As many as 524 concentrators were seized on May 7 from registered offices and restaurants owned by Kalra in Delhi’s Khan Market, Lodhi Colony and Chhattarpur areas. A first information report was registered and four people – Hitesh Prakash, Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi and Vikrant Singh – were arrested during the raids. The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code sections of cheating, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.
During the investigation, it was found that Matrix Cellular Services, an international SIM company, had allegedly bought over 7,000 machines from local vendors and Chinese companies and sold them at “exorbitant rates” to Covid-19 patients and their families.
The police have alleged that Kalra worked and his friend Gagan Duggal, the owner of Matrix Cellular Services, sold the equipment. Police claimed said the accused imported the equipment at a cost of Rs 16,000 to Rs 22,000 each and sold it for Rs 70,000.
The incident of black marketing came at a time when the country’s health infrastructure is ravaged by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. India is facing a shortage of medical equipment and supplies, including medicines and oxygen, even as the country is registering an alarming number of cases and deaths.
On Sunday, India registered 3,11,170 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally of infections since the pandemic began in January 2020 to 2,46,84,077. The toll rose by 4,077 to 2,70,284.