The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Saket, Delhi on Wednesday (12/05/2021), granted bail to Matrix Cellular’s Chief Executive Officer Gaurav Khanna and Vice-President Gaurav Suri in the case related to alleged hoarding and black marketing of oxygen concentrators in the capital.
The matter was heard by Arun Kumar Garg, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Saket Court.
The accused were arrested last week in connection with the recovery of 419 oxygen concentrators from various locations in Lodhi Colony and Mehrauli. The oxygen concentrators are alleged to have been imported by Matrix Cellularfrom China for selling at exorbitant prices to the public in desperate need of the device for their near ones suffering from Covid-19. It is alleged that the oxygen concentrators were sold at Rs.70,000 when the actual worth of the device was just Rs 28,000.
During the hearing, the accused denied the allegation of black marketing of the medical devices. It was submitted that the prices were fixed considering the cost incurred in importing and selling the device in times of high demand. Further, it was argued that there was no order capping the price of the device when the raids and arrests happened.
It was argued by the accused that the customs duty on the imports were duly paid and the sale was taxed under the GST regime. It was further argued that the investigation and arrest were of the nature of a "fishing and roving inquiry". The accused also submitted that the devices were imported not only from China but also from Europe and the mobile application used to sell the oxygen concentrator was functioning from 2016.
After hearing the matter and studying the documents submitted the court asked about an earlier order placed by the government itself, for 100 oxygen concentrators from Matrix Cellular.
The court asked during the hearing:
“Is doing business in this country an offence? You say we won't impose lockdown, so businesses are not affected. Now, these people have imported. There are no allegations of tax or customs duty evasion.”
The court further observed that:
“The officer has not yet been able to negate the story that they imported something and paid Customs duty. All payments have been accounted for, IGST, SGST has been paid. If the government is accepting, the tax department has the information. Nothing was concealed.”
The court pointed out that if private firms are charging exorbitant rates from the citizens the government must regulate them but no such orders were issued by the government on or before the date of raids and arrests.
The court asked the state to “first make the law to regulate price” and chided that the state cannot be in a hurry to arrest people just because the High Court asked it to regulate prices.
The bail was granted to the two accused subject to a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and surety of like amount.
The court has reserved its order on the bail applications of the co-accused in the case to 10 AM tomorrow (13/05/2021).
The Applicants were represented by Senior Advocates Mohit Mathur, TrideepPais and Advocates Samudra Sarangi, SherbirPanag, Vineet Malhotra with Advocates Shruti Raina, Srishti Khare, Abhilasha Khanna, Moha Paranjape, Nishtha Agarwal, Nitya Jain. The state was represented by Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava.
In a related development, Matrix Cellular has also approached the Delhi High Court to immediately release the seized oxygen concentrators.