Sunday, December 3, 2023

Oxygen concentrators: Matrix Cellular seeks immediate release of seized stock, Supreme Court allows Delhi Police 3 weeks’ time to file counter

The issue arose when a raid was conducted on May 5 by the SHO of police station Lodhi Colony while patrolling in the area of the restaurant in the name and style of Nege Ju in the Central Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi. In search, 32 boxes of Oxygen Concentrators of 09 and 05 liters capacity; one box of the thermal scanner and KN-95 Masks were recovered.

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The Supreme Court has on Friday allowed 3 weeks’ time to file a counter on the request of Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju in the matter of Hoarding of Oxygen Concentrators filed against the order passed by the Delhi High Court wherein the High Court had dismissed the writ petition filed by Matrix Cellular (International) Service Ltd seeking immediate release of its oxygen concentrators seized by Delhi Police.

The matter was listed before the Division Bench of Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice B.R. Gavai. The Bench has further provided 1 week time for filing rejoinder. The issue arose when a raid was conducted on May 5 by the SHO of Lodhi Colony police station while patrolling near Nege Ju restaurant in Central Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi. In a search, 32 boxes of oxygen concentrators of 9 and 5 litres capacity; a box of thermal scanners and KN-95 masks were recovered.

The FIR was lodged under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act, under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, and Section 420/188/ 120B/34 IPC, and four accused persons were also arrested therein. Later in the investigation 387 oxygen concentrators, 112 boxes containing KN-95 marks, 95 Oximeters were recovered from Matrix Cellular International Services Private Limited, 7, Khullar Farm House, Mandi Road, Fatehpur Beri, New Delhi. According to the Police, the accused persons disclosed regarding black marketing of oxygen concentrators and other Covid-19 treatment-related equipment from various sources and supply/ sold to the highest payer and needy person.

It has been alleged that in 2020 due to the global pandemic the work of the petitioner company was affected and they started dealing in Covid-19 related items and imported oximeter, KN-95 mask, and also procured the rest of the articles locally and sold them to the dealers and corporates. The allegations are they are selling the oxygen concentrators to the needy person with a profit/margin of Rs 40,000 to Rs 42,000 per piece.

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The counsel on behalf of the petitioner had submitted before the High Court that the petitioner is dealing in oxygen concentrators and not oxygen cylinders and the equipment which are seized from the petitioner are sold over the counter and is not a regulated/controlled item. These items are being sold by Amazon and other online portals and the acts of the petitioner have been carved out separately is the mischief of the Investigating Officer concerned.

The High Court had dismissed the writ petition observing, “The act of the petitioner is in violation of an Office Memorandum, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India, of dated 29.06.2020 (supra) which had directed the petitioners and others like him, selling oxygen concentrators, to not increase prices of oxygen concentrators by more than 10% of the maximum retail price in a year of the Drugs Pricing Control Order, 2013.”

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