“Job of the government is not like a terrorist” and “just to hide your failure, you are after people,” said an anguished Delhi Court on Tuesday while expressing strong displeasure that the government is yet to regulate the prices of the medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The court, which was hearing the alleged oxygen concentrator hoarding and black marketing case, also asked “is doing business in this country an offence”.
The hard hitting oral observations were made by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg while hearing the bail applications of Matrix Cellular Services employees, including the CEO and vice president, who were arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly hoarding and selling the equipment at exorbitant prices.
During the course of proceedings, the judge asked “is doing business in this country an offence” and pulled up the state for the arrest of private persons who were selling imported oxygen concentrators to consumers when it had itself not regulated the price.
“You [government] came out with an order on May 7 that it [oxygen concentrators] cannot be sold above MRP but the present FIR was on May 5,” he said, adding that it cannot penalise people and then make a law.
The judge further remarked, “Job of the government is not like a terrorist. You have to go by law. If there is no law and you feel there is a vacuum, then you need to fill it.”
The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate added, “If there is no price regulation and a vacuum, you are not filing it. Just to hide your failure, you are after people.”
Counsels for the five accused told the court that it is a “conjectural” case and that they will abide by the triple test for bail — not tamper with the evidence, influence any witnesses or be a flight risk.
Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava opposed the bail petitions of the accused and told the court that they hatched a conspiracy to wrongly make money and sold it on exorbitant prices.
Four of the accused who moved the bail petition are employees of Matrix Cellular Services, which is one of the companies involved in importing the equipment, including their CEO Gaurav Khanna and vice-president Gaurav Suri.
The third and fourth accused are Vikrant and Satish Sethi.
The fifth accused is the employee of the ”town hall” restaurant owned by prime accused Navneet Kalra.
According to Delhi Police, Matrix Cellular received a consignment of 650 oxygen concentrators, of which 524 have been recovered. The concentrators are being sold for as much as Rs 70,000.
The order on the bail application is reserved for Wednesday.