Court grants bail to businessman Navneet Kalra in oxygen concentrator black-marketing case

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New Delhi, May 29 (PTI) A Delhi court on Saturday granted bail to businessman Navneet Kalra in the oxygen concentrator black-marketing case, saying that he has clean antecedents and will not tamper with the evidence.

During a recent raid amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, 524 oxygen concentrators were recovered from Khan Chacha, Town Hall and Nege & Ju restaurants owned by Kalra in the national capital.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg has directed the accused not to contact the customers to whom he had sold the concentrators and not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses.

Kalra, who is accused of black-marketing the critical medical devices, has also been directed to join the investigation as and when called by the police and furnish personal bond and two surety bonds of Rs one lakh each. 'Apparently accused is having clean antecedents, in as much as, no previous involvement of the accused in any criminal case has been reported. No purpose will be served by keeping the accused behind bars,” stated the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

Further, the judge stated that there is no material supporting the “bald averment” of the prosecution that Kalra may influence the witnesses.

Since all the relevant documents have already been seized from Kalra's possession, there is no substance in the plea of the state that the accused may tamper with the evidence, the 23-page court order stated.

The magistrate, however, said that prima facie the accused was involved in commission of offences such as cheating under the Indian Penal Code and other sections under the Essential Commodities Act, both of which are punishable with imprisonment up to seven years.

During the hearing on the bail plea, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, representing the Delhi Police, told the court that the businessman committed a white-collar crime and made profit by selling medical devices at exorbitant price to those on death beds.

Kalra's lawyers, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa and advocate Vineet Malhotra, opposed the contentions of the police and said that their client is being made a scapegoat and had no criminal intent to cheat people as he sold the oxygen concentrators to merely help family and friends amid the pandemic.

The businessman was nabbed from Gurugram on May 16 and formally arrested the next day. He had been on the run ever since the police raided his restaurants and seized the medical devices. A court had later sent him to judicial custody till June 3.

The police claimed that the concentrators were imported from China and were being sold at an exorbitant price of Rs 50,000 to 70,000 a piece as against its cost of Rs 16,000 to Rs 22,000. PTI AAK SMN SMN

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