Hoarding of oxygen concentrators case: Delhi HC declines interim relief to Khan Market restaurateur Navneet Kalra
The Delhi high court on Friday refused to provide interim protection from arrest to Navneet Kalra, the owner of Khan Chacha restaurant in Delhi, in the case regarding the alleged black marketing of oxygen concentrators. The single-judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad also posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday (May 18) after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju appearing for the Delhi police sought time to file reply and argue in the case.
“I am persuaded by the reasons given by the trial court which is a valid ground for me not to grant any interim protection now,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said. Previously on Thursday, restaurateur Navneet Kalra moved the Delhi HC for an anticipatory bail in the case after a trial court dismissed it earlier on the same day.
ASG Raju opposed any interim relief to Kalra at this stage in the case and said that this is not a case where such protection could be given. He also sought for more time till Tuesday from the court.
Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Kalra, said that the case is a harassment and also noted that the punishment can’t be given as the fixation of price has not been done for oxygen concentrators as essential commodities.
Singhvi also said that the police are visiting relatives of Kalra regarding the case. “They are visiting the house of the brother-in -law of the accused. His father in law is separately being paid courtesy calls. The job of the police, influenced by the press, is not this. Today morning SI goes there, Mr. Raju is now asking for time,” Singhvi said.
Delhi police on May 7 (Friday) raided two restaurants in the city’s Khan Market area -- Khan Chacha and Town Hall restaurants -- from where 105 oxygen concentrator devices were recovered. Previously, 419 oxygen concentrators were also found at Nege & Ju restaurant in Lodhi Colony and a godown in Chattarpur that belonged to a private company named Matrix Cellular. Navneet Kalra owns the three restaurants that were raided.
Demand for oxygen concentrators swelled during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the national capital as many hospitals ran out of medical oxygen. It was also a crucial part of the medical supplies and aids provided by many foreign countries to help India’s efforts against the pandemic.
Kalra has been on the run since the equipment were seized from his restaurants, according to the police. Also, investigators have said that they possess evidence to prove that oxygen concentrators, which were bought for ₹14,000 to ₹15,000, were being sold for prices upwards of ₹75,000.