New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday (May 14) declined to grant interim protection from arrest to businessman Navneet Kalra, seeking anticipatory bail in connection with alleged black marketing of oxygen concentrators. The Delhi Police last week seized 100 oxygen concentrators from premises owned by Kalra, including the restaurant “Khan Chacha.”

The High Court also agreed with the reasons given by the trial court while denying Navneet Kalra the relief. A Sessions court had on Thursday dismissed Kalra’s anticipatory bail plea, saying the allegations against him were serious and his custodial interrogation was required to “unearth the entire conspiracy”.

Listing the matter for hearing on May 18, Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “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 Prasad made this observation after Kalra’s lawyers — senior advocates Abhishek M Singhvi and Vikas Pahwa — urged the court to grant some interim protection if the matter was going to be adjourned till May 18 on the request of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju. 

Fearing arrest, Kalra had moved the court earlier this week to seek bail in the case, claiming that no offence was made out against him and that he is willing to join the investigation.

Additional Session Judge Sandeep Garg dismissed his application and stated, “Custodial interrogation of accused is required to be carried out to unearth the entire conspiracy hatched between him and a number of co-accused persons.”

During a recent raid, 524 oxygen concentrators, were recovered from three restaurants owned by Kalra — Khan Chacha, Nega Ju, and Town Hall, and he is suspected to have left Delhi along with his family. The concentrators are crucial medical equipment used for COVID-19 patients.

The Delhi court said, “The accused has not joined the investigation to date. The mobile phone of accused which reportedly contains incriminating WhatsApp chats with customers, details of calls made to co-accused persons and his accounts are required to be seized.”

The judge said that the possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence or intimidating the prosecution witnesses cannot be ruled out. “Therefore, no case for grant of anticipatory bail is made out,” the Additional Session Judge Sandeep Garg added.

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

The FIR also registered under the Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act, for black marketing of oxygen cylinders prescribes maximum punishment for seven years.

(With Agency Inputs)

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