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O2 concentrator case: Kalra gets bail, court says him not joining probe no reason to deny relief

Kalra was granted bail subject to furnishing two surety bonds and a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: May 29, 2021 9:50:28 pm
Covid-19Accused businessman Navneet Kalra (File photo)

A Delhi court Saturday granted bail to businessman Navneet Kalra, accused of black marketing and selling oxygen concentrators at an exorbitant rate, and said the accused not joining the probe pending a decision on his anticipatory bail pleas, in the absence of any interim protection by superior courts, does not mean he should be denied relief.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg, in his order, wrote that this case is primarily based on documentary evidence and since “all relevant documents have already been seized by the investigation officer from the possession/at instance of accused, there is no substance in the plea of State that accused may tamper with evidence”.

“Even otherwise, the said apprehension of the prosecution, regarding tampering of evidence by the accused, may be allayed by imposing appropriate condition upon the accused at the time of grant of bail…,” the order read.

Kalra was granted bail subject to furnishing two surety bonds and a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each.

The court also said “there is no material supporting the bald averment of the prosecution that accused may influence witnesses, being influential”.

“Merely because the accused did not join investigation pending adjudication of his anticipatory bail applications, in the absence of any interim protection by the superior courts, does not mean that he should be denied bail on the said ground alone since the accused had been taking recourse to legal remedies available to him,” the order read.

The court also clarified that nothing expressed in the order “shall tantamount to an opinion on merits of the case”.

Opposing Kalra’s bail application, Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Atul Srivastava, who represented Delhi Police, said, “He did not surrender at the time the High Court was hearing the case. He was hiding. He was arrested from Gurugram. Considering the situation, he has ruined the name of our society also. For this reason, bail should be rejected.”

Srivastava told the court that Kalra was cheating customers by representing that his life-saving equipment was of high quality while two law reports have shown they were not:
“You have kept all these products at Khan Chacha (a restaurant in Delhi). You have no quality control management. You’ve not employed any person. You’ve not ensured any quality check. That too in a situation where purchasers are on death bed just for making money. Isn’t it cheating?”

“It is useless and as good as a dabba. People were on death bed. The GOI says using these on mild and moderate persons will cause them harm,” the APP added.

Srivastava further said: “WHO guidelines says oxygen level must be more than 30% in concentrators. Charity is not done at the cost of some money. He is not doing any charity. Had you sold it on a cost price, it would have been charity. But they sold it at a much higher price.”

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, who represented Kalra, rebutted the APP’s arguments and told the court, “The first argument made was that there was a representation on the app showing the products to be from Germany. But the representation was of August 2020. The sale was in May 2021.”

Pahwa asked the court if Kalra could be held responsible for a representation made in August 2020 when his interaction with the importer Matrix was in May 2021.

On the issue of a letter written about the low quality of equipment supplied by Kalra, Pahwa said, “For opposing my bail, they said yes they have a duty. But no efforts have been made by them to remove the concentrators from Covid centres. This letter is just an eyewash. If Delhi Police is a responsible authority, why haven’t they written to the GOI that these oxygen concentrators are harmful and shouldn’t be imported?”

Rebutting the APP’s submission on the AIIMS report, which stated that Kalra sold sub-standard equipment, Pahwa told the court, “The report of AIIMS is an eyewash. If you give an erroneous report to someone, erroneous results will come. Garbage in, garbage out is what we’ve learnt in computers. AIIMS report shows that they have relied on Shri Ram Laboratory report. They haven’t seen the concentrators.”

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