Delhi court dismisses police plea for Navneet Kalra’s custody in O2 concentrators case


A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed a plea by Delhi Police seeking custody of businessperson Navneet Kalra in the black marketing of oxygen concentrators matter.

Metropolitan magistrate Vasundhra Azad said: “In my considered opinion, police remand is not warranted.”

The court will hear Kalra’s bail plea on May 25. Kalra was sent to 14-day judicial custody in the case, as the court decided that no case was made out for further extension of police custody. He was arrested on May 16 from his brother-in-law’s farmhouse in Gurugram and then remanded to three days’ police custody.

In the hearing today, additional public prosecutor (APP) Atul Shrivastav, representing the police, argued that Kalra needs to be confronted with mobile phone data and bank account details. He added that some WhatsApp screenshots are available with the police, where people have asked for refund for concentrators, which were not working. The APP also cited expert opinion provided by AIIMS stating that oxygen concentrators supplied by Kalra were useless.

Kalra, who was present for hearing via video conference from jail, was permitted to speak during the hearing in the matter. Kalra said he is not the manufacturer or importer of these machines. He cited messages where people have said the concentrators supplied by him saved lives.

Advocate Vineet Malhotra, representing Kalra, submitted his client does not manufacture oxygen concentrators, and he had got 700 concentrators from Matrix and they were stored on his premises for distribution to some friends, relatives and customers. He added that his client had already given his bank account details to the police. On the aspect of poor quality of oxygen concentrators, Malhotra argued the police had supplied 450 of concentrators to Covid care centres, after their recovery from his client, and added that his client has been made a scapegoat.

Kalra was on the run since the seizure of 524 oxygen concentrators from three restaurants — Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Nege & Ju — owned by him. The High Court on May 14 declined to grant him any interim protection from arrest while his plea for anticipatory bail was pending before it.

Four employees of Matrix Cellular company, including its CEO and vice president, who were also arrested, were granted bail in the case. Kalra bought oxygen concentrators from Matrix Cellular which imported them.

On May 5, a case was registered against Kalra under Section 420 (cheating), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was also registered under Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.