Court rejects plea for custodial interrogation of Kalra, remanded to judicial custody

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New Delhi, May 20 (PTI) A Court here on Thursday rejected the plea of Delhi Police seeking five more days of custodial interrogation of businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with allegedly hoarding and black marketing life-saving oxygen concentrators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kalra, who was produced before the court on expiry of his three days of police custody, was sent to 14 days of judicial custody.

The order was passed by Metropolitan Magistrate Akanksha Garg.

The police sought extension of his custody on the grounds that he is required to be confronted with voluminous transactions, while Kalra's lawyer said that his interrogation is no more required.

During a recent raid, 524 oxygen concentrators were recovered from Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju restaurants owned by Kalra.

The absconding businessman was nabbed from Gurugram on May 16 night and formally arrested the next day.

During the proceedings, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, told the court that “almost 516 transactions were made and 23 banks were involved and he has to be confronted with this. These bank accounts are voluminous.” The prosecutor further said that the accused has to be confronted with the mirror image of his mobile phone.

'Court has allowed our application to prepare a mirror image of his mobile phone. Image will be made today or tomorrow and he will be confronted,” Shrivastava added.

However, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, representing Kalra, requested the court to not grant further custody of the businessman to the police as all the recoveries have been made and his presence is not required.

During the earlier three-days of custodial interrogation, the police took Kalra to the three upscale restaurants owned by him in Khan Market and Lodhi Colony. He was also taken for the mandatory medical examination.

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.

The concentrators are a crucial medical equipment used for COVID-19 patients and are on high demand amid the second wave of the pandemic.

On May 5, a case was registered against Kalra under Section 420 (cheating), 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a money laundering case against him. PTI AAK RKS RKS

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