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"Under What Capacity can You Keep Oxygen Concentrators Without License?": Delhi High Court to Navneet Kalra

Delhi HC Navneet Kalra Oxygen Concentrators

On Thursday (May 13, 2021), the Delhi High Court in an emergency evening hearing asked Navneet Kalra, who was arrested for hoarding Oxygen Concentrators by the Delhi Police recently, as to in what capacity was he holding 105 oxygen Concentrators when the same should be possible just through a valid license.

A single-judge bench involving Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing an anticipatory bail plea by Kalra after a Sessions Court dismissed the same earlier yesterday ( May 13, 2021).

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, showing up for Kalra, contended that the media was baying for Kalra's blood.

Singhvi primarily contended that in the absence of a government mandate for fixing the cost of oxygen concentrators under Section 3(1) of the Essential Commodities Act, Kalra can't be said to selling his stock at an extreme cost.

Singhvi also asserted that Kalra had bought the oxygen concentrators with invoices, having paid Goods and Services Tax (GST) and that he was not hoarding the machines.

Singhvi further submitted before the court that "Office Memorandum doesn't indicate to be a request under sec. 3(1). It's simply a data requesting MRP. The restriction of 10% isn't fixing the cost."

Taking note of this Court asked:

“If the device is a medication constrained by the previously mentioned request expressing that an individual can't sell over 10%, then what the Government is doing is to "call for MRP and ensure it not sold more than that and in such a case, it’s an infringement."

Rejecting the proposition, Singhvi presented that the limitation of 10% has got nothing to do with the fixation of MRP.

He contended that,

"It must be simple. if he needs to arrest me, he needs to show MRP, government cap, and solicitations. My point is that for any infringement, criminality should move from an unambiguous statute. Make the plan and the command of legislation clear."

Moreover, clarifying the order of sec. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, Singhvi contended hence:

"Under sec. 3(2), after an assessment, is framed Under sec. 3(1), yet regulating just to the extent of cost and disposal acquisition and afterward, the subsequent stage is to show an unambiguous benchmark This is the descending request. Honestly, no organization says qua cost or sale. We are concerned only with a certain something, thou will sell under a specific cost. Show that request and I'll be out of court."

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who showed up for the State said that it was a clear case of black marketing.

ASG submitted that,

We have checked two of the Concentrators. They say that the Concentrators were of premium quality, made in German though the same are Chinese third-class products. The report from the lab expresses that the same are not up to mark. They said that the same is premium and sold them to individuals”.

Questioning the aforesaid conduct of cheating people, ASG contended that,

“We're still to find out if a person has died in case, he has not got sufficient and if we find that even in one case, what happens? It may be an offense under 302 or 304 or an attempt. We're at a threshold of investigation."

The Sessions Court yesterday had refused to grant anticipatory bail to businessman Navneet Kalra charged regarding the recovery and seizure of Oxygen Concentrators by the Delhi Police. Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Garg excused the use of anticipatory bail recorded by Kalra.

The Delhi Police had enrolled a case under sec. 420,188,120B,34 of the Indian Penal Code and sec. 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodity Act 1955 for recovery of more than 500 oxygen Concentrators from some eateries in the national capital. The case has been moved to the Crime Branch.

The Court had yesterday reserved requests in the bail plea after hearing Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa and Advocate Vineet Malhotra showing up for Kalra and Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava for the State.

The Court eventually decided to adjourn the hearing to today (May 14, 2021) at 12 pm.

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