HC declines to pass order on Matrix request to remove imports from customs to avoid demurrage

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to pass any orders on Matrix Cellular's request for permission to remove from customs their COVID-19 related imports, to avoid further demurrage charges, and store it at any location specified by the police.

The company made the oral request before Justice Asha Menon during hearing of its plea seeking to restrain the police from taking any coercive measures like seizure of its oxygen concentrators or other related products it would be importing or has imported in connection with COVID-19 treatment.

Matrix urged the court to allow it to remove its goods from the customs warehouse where its imports are lying presently, to avoid payment of demurrage charges for the duration the consignment is lying with the customs authorities.

It said it was willing to store the goods at any location specified by the police till its instant petition is decided.

The request was made by the company after the counsel for the police and the Centre sought that the matter be heard next week.

Subsequently, without issuing any interim directions, the court listed the matter for hearing on May 24.

In its petition, Matrix has claimed that its import of the concentrators was legitimate and a part of the consignment was stored at businessman Navneet Kalra's restaurant 'Nege and Ju' as it was a 'collection centre' from where people could purchase the units without having to crowd outside the company's office.

The company has claimed that due to the increase in number of COVID-19 patients in the city, there were several persons in dire need of concentrators and it was leading to people queuing outside its office.

'Accordingly, the petitioner (Matrix) decided to designate an alternate location as a collection point for the oxygen concentrators and related equipment and it was pursuant to the same, the Petitioner designated a restaurant - 'Nege and Ju','the petition has said.

It has claimed that the 'collection centre' was chosen at it was centrally located and was accessible by people from all parts of the National Capital Region.

However, on May 5, the police seized all the concentrators at the said collection centre on 'baseless and misconceived' allegation that the same was as part of black market operation, it further claimed.

'Thereafter, during the dead of the night, the said police officers arrived at the office of the petitioner and seized the entire stock of oxygen concentrators located therein,' the petition has said.

'In view of the same and in anticipation of further prejudicial and coercive action being taken by these police officers against the goods being acquired by the petitioner, similar to that already taken by these police officers in relation to the products previously seized, the Petitioner is filing the present writ petition seeking inter alia directions restraining the respondents (police) from taking such similar prejudicial and coercive action against the products being imported by the petitioner in the future,' the company has said in its plea. PTI HMP HMP RKS RKS

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