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Delhi Court Rejects Anticipatory bail to Navneet Karla in Delhi Oxygen Concentrator Hoarding Case

Delhi Oxygen Concentrator Hoarding Case.

The Sessions Court at Saket, Delhi on May 13, 2021, rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by businessman Navneet Karla in the case related to the recovery of a hoard of oxygen concentrators from several upscale restaurants in Delhi.

The application was decided by Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Garg.

The matter was reserved for orders after yesterday's hearing. During the protracted hearing of the matter, Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava argued that the accused is an influential person who could tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses if left out on bail. It was also submitted that police custody must be granted so that the accused can be questioned to carry forward the investigation.

The Public Prosecutor argued that the offence of wrongful gain under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is made out against the accused. It was also submitted that all the evidence which prove the crime cannot be expected at the preliminary stage of investigation especially due to the Covid-19 situation.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa and Advocate Vineet Malhotra represented Karla in the hearing. The counsels argued that the raid and subsequent investigation was done in a mala fide manner by the Delhi police as the government has not capped the price of oxygen concentrators. It was also submitted that all the sale happened in an open market with necessary tax compliance.

Pointing to the recent decision of the High-Powered Committee constituted by Delhi High Court to decongest the prisons in the face of rising Covid-19 infections, Advocate Pahwa argued that the FIR against the accused only makes out an offence which calls for a maximum punishment of 7 years and in such a case anticipatory bail is to be granted given the Supreme Court directions following the Arnesh Kumar guidelines.

Last week the Delhi Police had uncovered a hoard of 524 oxygen concentrators from three upscale hotels owned by Karla. In the initial raid at the famous Khan Chacha restaurant in Khan Market 96 oxygen concentrators were recovered and 9 concentrators were recovered from the Town Hall restaurant. Later raid in Nege & Ju Restaurant and Bar in Lodhi Colony recovered 419 of the medical devices. All three hotels are owned by Karla.

Since the raid Karla, with his family, has been absconding and the Delhi Police has issued a lookout notice against him.

It is alleged that the oxygen concentrators were imported from China by a private company and kept hoarded for sale in the black market owing to the high demand for the product in the worsening Covid situation in the capital.

It is alleged that the accused were charging as high as Rs 70,000 for the oxygen concentrators which in the open market costs around Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000.

The matter has now been transferred to the Crime Branch. Four people including the Managers of the hotels have been arrested by the police and a manhunt has begun for Kalra.

The accused are charged under various sections 420, 188, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 7 the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. 

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