Delhi: Matrix Cellular’s plea to release seized concentrators rejected
New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Matrix Cellular seeking to release the oxygen concentrators seized by the city police, saying that the company “was selling untested oxygen concentrators to people desperate for these devices at exorbitant prices” amid an acute shortage.
“The facts show the petitioner was engaged in selling untested oxygen concentrators to people desperate for these devices and at exorbitant prices through false representations, especially, when the State and the whole country saw a unprecedented surge of covid-19 infections and severe lack of oxygen cylinders and/or concentrators,” Justice Yogesh Khanna said.
The court said that there was “no illegality by the Delhi police in seizing the concentrators especially when the State was reeling under acute shortage of drugs, cylinders, concentrators and attendants of patients were running pillar to post, ready to part with their life savings for its purchase”.
“The police official, when got information about black marketing and hoarding of medical devices (concentrator) and of violation of the law orders, had acted and seized the material,” said the court while rejecting a submission by Matrix that police acted arbitrarily or their action has no legal backing.
The single judge bench said that the “prima facie the act of the petitioner (Matrix Cellular) is in violation of an office memorandum of the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, government of India, dated June 29, 2020 which had directed the petitioner and others like it, selling oxygen concentrators, to not increase prices of oxygen concentrators by more than 10% of the maximum retail price in a year of the Drugs Pricing Control Order (DPCO), 2013.
“Hence, the investigation being at initial stage, the reliefs sought for in this petition cannot be granted by this Court except the concentrators so seized be put an identification mark(s) and its coloured photographs be kept for future reference, by the respondent (Delhi police),” the court noted in its 17-page order.
The court also said that the release of the concentrators would be a violation of an order of the division bench last month where it had said that such equipment be deposited to the District Magistrate who would distribute it for further use in wake of the acute shortage.
The order comes on the plea by Matrix Cellular which had sought release of its concentrators seized by the police during raids at the company’s collection centre at Lodhi Colony and its office premises at Mehrauli on May 5.
The plea had said that the petitioner company is dealing in oxygen concentrators and not oxygen cylinders and the equipment which are seized from them are sold over the counters and is not a regulated/controlled item.
“These items are being sold by Amazon and other online portals and the acts of petitioner have been carved out separately is a mischief of the concerned Investigating Officer,” the company argued before the court.
According to the plea, 32 boxes of oxygen concentrators of 9 and 5 litres; one box of thermal scanner and KN-95 Masks were recovered. An FIR was registered following this and four persons were arrested.