On Friday (July 30), the Delhi High Court was informed that the Delhi police had cancelled the registration certificate of two of the restaurants owned by tainted businessman Navneet Kalra. He used to run two eateries in the Khan Market area, namely, Khan Chacha and Town Hall, and a restaurant-cum-bar in south Delhi’s Lodhi Colony area.
As per reports, Kalra had filed a petition before the Delhi High Court challenging the show-cause notice and order suspending the registration certificates of his restaurants, for his involvement in black marketing of oxygen concentrators. The police contended that the decision to cancel the registration certificate was taken by the licensing wing after giving an opportunity to Kalra to present his case.
On May 11, the Joint Commissioner of Police (licensing) issued a order-cum-show-cause-notice to explain why the eateries were used to store oxygen concentrators. In his defense, Kalra had claimed that the restaurants were his source of livelihood and that they were lying vacant. He alleged to have used the vacant space for storing oxygen concentrators in ‘good faith’ and ‘society’s service.’ The cops, however, found his explanation ‘unsatisfactory’ and accordingly cancelled his license on July 23.
Licensing Unit of Delhi informs Delhi HC that it has cancelled Registration Certificate of Khan Chacha restaurant, run by businessman Navneet Kalra— ANI (@ANI) July 30, 2021
Kalra is accused in black marketing of oxygen concentrators. Oxygen concentrators were found hoarded at Khan Chacha earlier this yr pic.twitter.com/cgYBG6eyf9
In his petition, Kalra alleged, “The order of suspension is also bad as recovery of oxygen concentrators made from the restaurant premises is no ground nor is it given as a ground for suspension of licence. The order of suspension adversely affects the business, reputation, and livelihood of all employees working in the restaurant.” He further claimed that the cancelling of registration certificates was in contradiction to the provisions laid down by Delhi Eating Houses Registration Regulations. He said that the authorities cannot exercise the power of suspension at the stage of show-cause notice issuance.
Navneet Kalra and Oxygen black marketing case
Earlier on May 7, the Delhi Police had recovered 524 oxygen concentrators from Navneet Kalra from three of his restaurants and the office of Matrix Cellular. Following the raids at his eateries, Kalra switched off his mobile phone and fled the city. It is important to note that Navneet Kalra was felicitated by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government in 2020. He was among the 48 personalities honoured as ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’ by the AAP government after returning to power.
He was eventually arrested on May 16 by the Delhi Police for black marketing and hoarding of oxygen concentrators. He was produced before a local court on May 20 and sent to judicial custody for two weeks. The Delhi police had also arrested four men, Gaurav Khanna, Satish Sethi, Vikrant, and Hitesh for hoarding and black-marketing the equipment. Khanna is the CEO of Matrix Cellular Services Ltd which is one of the companies involved in importing the equipment.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, Matrix MD Gagan Duggal worked alongside Navneet Kalra in importing oxygen concentrators and then selling them at high prices. The concentrators were bought from China and were imported to India via Hong Kong. ED informed that the duo had imported more than 7000 such oxygen concentrators in the past one month. While the import price of the life-saving equipment was around ₹15000, they sold them for ₹69,999 per piece.
Citing sources, Hindustan Times reported that the forensic examination of the oxygen concentrators has revealed that they are of substandard quality. Despite being aware of this, Navneet Kalra and his aide Gagan Duggal sold the oxygen concentrators to needy people at exorbitant prices by falsely claiming that they are made of German technology. An anonymous ED officer informed, “The duo took advantage of a raging pandemic and made huge profit by cheating the public.”