A Delhi Court on Monday remanded businessman Navneet Kalra to three days of police custody, saying his custodial interrogation is required in connection with alleged black marketing and hoarding of oxygen concentrators amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Metropolitan Magistrate Archana Beniwal sent the restaurateur for three days of custodial interrogation after the Delhi Police said his police custody is required to unearth the whole nexus and conspiracy behind the black marketing and know the trail of money transaction.
“The court is of the view that custodial interrogation of accused is required for recovery of electronic devices, used for the purpose of the commission of alleged offenses, to recover the remaining OC's [Oxygen Concentrators], to identify the other victims, exploited by him…” the court stated in the order.
It added his quizzing in police custody was required, “for detailed investigation regarding his involvement and connections with Matrix and Classic Metals, the manner of procurement of OC''s, for detailed investigation of financial transactions from his firm as well as to identify the other co-accused involved in the present case.” Kalra will now be produced before the court at the end of his police remand on May 20.
He was nabbed from Gurugram on Sunday night and was formally arrested earlier today. He was on the run for over a week since the seizure of more than 500 oxygen concentrators from Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju restaurants owned by him.
Investigating Officer (IO) Kamal Kumar asserted that his custodial interrogation is required to unearth the whole nexus and conspiracy behind the black marketing and know the trail of money transaction.
During the proceedings, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava told the court that Kalra has to be confronted with the co-accused in the case and that documents are voluminous for which his custody is required.
“It is a case of conspiracy. He had been evading arrest. This is a serious case. Without police custody, it will be impossible for the investigating agency to reach the conclusion,” the prosecutor said while seeking his police custody for five days.
Opposing the police custody, the counsel representing Kalra said that his bank details, mobile phone, laptop and gadgets are already available with police and that his custodial interrogation is not required.
“Remand must be granted only in cases of real necessity. For what purpose do they need custody? They need to know the trail? They can get any information they want from me. Request for the police remand is absurd,” advocate Vineet Malhotra added.
It was also requested that Kalra be allowed to receive treatment at Medanta for stitches in his fractured jaw.
On May 13, a court had rejected his anticipatory bail application, saying that allegations against him are serious and his custodial interrogation is required to “unearth the entire conspiracy”.
Pursuant to this, the accused moved the Delhi High Court, which also declined to grant interim protection from arrest in the case, agreeing with the reasons given by the trial court while denying him the relief.
During a recent raid, 524 oxygen concentrators were recovered from three restaurants owned by Kalra in Khan Market and Lodhi Colony in Delhi. The case was subsequently transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch.
The police claimed that the concentrators were imported from China and were being sold at an exorbitant price of Rs 50,000 to 70,000 a piece as against its cost of Rs 16,000 to Rs 22,000.
The concentrators are crucial medical equipment used for COVID-19 patients and are on high demand amid the second wave of the pandemic.
On May 5, a case was registered against Kalra under Section 420 (cheating), 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.