Accused of black-marketing oxygen concentrators, who's Navneet 'Khan Chacha' Kalra?
A Delhi court on Thursday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with the case of alleged hoarding and black marketing of oxygen concentrators in the national capital. Kalra—who was denied interim protection from arrest in the same case on Tuesday—is reportedly on the run since the recovery of the oxygen concentrators. Here's all you need to know about Kalra.
Kalra owns several businesses in Delhi; known for social connections
Kalra owns the restaurants Khan Chacha, Town Hall, and Mr. Choy in Khan Market and Nege & Ju in Lodhi Colony (two of the most upscale neighborhoods in south Delhi) besides eyewear retailer Dayal Opticals. A quick look at his social media handles indicates a lavish lifestyle, and socializing with prominent personalities from Bollywood, sportspersons, and even politicians who frequent his restaurants.
Kalra's wife is a 'pilates expert, motivational speaker' and anchor
The 38-year-old businessman is married to Kitty Kalra, a self-proclaimed pilates expert, and motivational speaker. She is a fitness anchor for Hotstar and Airtel Digital TV's channel. Her Instagram pictures show the couple vacationing in New Zealand, Iceland, Spain, among others holiday destinations.
'Khan Chacha' wasn't always owned by Kalra
Khan Chacha was started by Haji Banda Hasan, popularly known as "Khan Chacha" in the bylanes of Khan Market, in 1972. Hasan's sons Javed and Saleem joined the business, and in 2010, the family joined hands with Kalra. However, after running successfully for a few years, the partnership split in 2016. The two sides fought a bitter court battle over 'Khan Chacha trademark.'
Brand name currently being used by Kalra
Kalra claimed that Haji Banda Hasan and his sons had signed over the rights to the brand name to him, while the latter alleged that any such documents were "forged and fabricated," The Economic Times reported. However, the brand name is currently being used by Kalra. Meanwhile, Haji Banda Hasan and his sons launched a new eatery chain in 2017 called Rule The Rolls.
Congress had nominated Kalra for Delhi Golf Club membership
The businessman has previously grabbed attention for a recommendation by the former Congress government. In 2006, in response to a question asked in the Rajya Sabha, the-then Urban Development Minister Ajay Maken said that the government had nominated Kalra and three others to become permanent members of the Delhi Golf Club. Maken recommended that the Club accept two "out of turn" members annually.
Magazine had called Kalra 'Delhi's top punter,' apologized later
In 2013, Open Magazine issued an apology to Kalra for stating that he was "Delhi's top punter" and that he "allegedly had links with bookies abroad" in an article titled 'Anatomy of a Scandal.' The magazine—which had stated that the Delhi Police released Kalra after two days' questioning post his confession—later said the report was "wrong" and it did not mean to make insinuations.
Kalra was felicitated as a 'maker of Delhi' by AAP
In February 2020, when the Aam Aadmi Party returned to power in Delhi, Kalra was among the 50 people felicitated as 'Delhi ke Nirmata' (the makers of Delhi) by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. They were invited as special guests during the CM's oath-taking ceremony.
524 oxygen concentrators seized from three of Kalra's restaurant: Police
Last week on Friday, Delhi Police said they raided Khan Chacha and Town Hall restaurants in Khan Market and recovered 105 oxygen concentrators. A day before, 419 oxygen concentrators were seized from restaurant-cum-bar Nege & Ju and Matrix Cellular's godown at Kalra's farmhouse in Chattarpur. The police arrested restaurant manager Hitesh Prakash along with three other staffers—Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi, and Vikrant Singh.
Oxygen concentrators being imported by Chinese company: Police
The police claimed that the oxygen concentrators being hoarded in the businessman's restaurants were imported by a private company in China. Kalra was selling them at exorbitant rates after approaching buyers on WhatsApp. Local buyers used to stand in a queue outside Khan Chacha to purchase oxygen concentrators in the range of Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 80,000, the police said.
Kalra hatched conspiracy amid raging pandemic: Prosecution
Additional Sessions Judge at Saket Courts, Sandeep Garg on Thursday refused anticipatory bail to Kalra. The prosecution argued that Kalra "hatched a conspiracy" by "inducing" the public to buy his oxygen concentrators at an "exorbitant rate" amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, Bar and Bench reported. Kalra made "crores of rupees" and said his oxygen concentrators were "premium," "German" and "sufficient for two persons."
'Kalra being made scapegoat to divert attention from core issues'
Kalra's lawyer Vikas Pahwa told the court that he was being made a scapegoat "so that the attention is diverted from core issues in society." It was submitted that the oxygen concentrators seized from Kalra's restaurants were authentic and properly imported, and were sold after raising invoices. Pahwa highlighted that the government authorities themselves had not fixed a ceiling price for the machines.