A Delhi court on Saturday, May 29, granted bail to businessman Navneet Kalra in the oxygen concentrators black marketing case. Kalra was granted bail on the condition of furnishing a personal bond of two sureties, each of Rs 1 lakh.
In his order, Judge Arun Kumar Garg, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, stated that the case was primarily based upon the documentary evidence which had already been seized. It also rejected the evidence on tampering and witnesses being influenced, Bar and Bench reported.
Garg said that keeping Kalra in custody would serve no purpose.
"No purpose will be served by keeping the accused behind bars given the law laid down by Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sanjay Chandra v. CBI (Supra) that the purpose of bail is neither preventive nor punitive but to secure the appearance of the accused person at his trial by a reasonable amount of bail and the right to bail is not to be denied to the accused merely because sentiments of the community are against the accused."
The Court also opined that on the first impression, there were reasons to believe Kalra's involvement.
"As on date, on a bare perusal of case diary it is apparent that prima facie there are reasons to believe that the accused is involved in the commission of offence u/s 420 IPC and u/s 7(1)(a)(ii) read with Section 3(2)(c) and (d) of the EC Act, 1955 read with para 26 of the DPCO, 2013, both of which are punishable with imprisonment up to seven years."
Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava opposed his bail application on the ground that Kalra intended to cheat people who were in vulnerable positions due to the pandemic and make a profit out of it.
Shrivastava stated that the businessman and the co-accused 'hatched a conspiracy to wrongfully make money by illegally hoarding the oxygen concentrators and selling them at exorbitant prices.
Kalra's counsel, Advocate Vikas Pahwa, argued that no purpose would be served by keeping Kalra in pre-trial detention as there was nothing more to the case. He said that there was no misrepresentation regarding anything, as the information about the machine's quality and capacity was mentioned on the product's website.
He said that the concentrators sold were of low efficacy that generated only 20.8 per cent pure oxygen.
Srivastava added that the concentrators sold by Kalra were of low efficacy that generated only 20.8 per cent pure oxygen. Pahwa questioned why the police gave the oxygen concentrators to COVID centres if they were of inferior quality. Shrivastava said that the police officers were also subject to cheating.
He added that if Kalra was released on bail, he would tamper with the evidence and influence the witnesses.
Pahwa also asked why the central government had imported the concentrators if they are of sub-standard quality. He stated that the Centre had admitted before the High Court that the price of the oxygen concentrators was unregulated. Thus, no case of illegal profiteering can be held against his client.
The advocate said that Kalra would abide by the law and cooperate with the investigation.
The Delhi businessman was arrested on May 16 from his brother-in-law's farmhouse in Gurugram. The police had been on the lookout for Kalra since they seized over 500 oxygen concentrators from his three restaurants on May 7, in Delhi's Khan Market complex, including Khan Chacha Cafe, Nege and Ju and Town Hall.
The concentrators were also seized from his properties at Lodhi Colony, and Chattarpur reported LiveLaw. He was absconding ever since the police raided his properties.