New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has granted bail to four men, who were arrested for allegedly hoarding and selling at exorbitant rates life-saving medicines to treat COVID-19 patients during the second wave of the pandemic.

The high court said though the men are accused of a nefarious and depraved offence, taking into account the fact that the evidence is primarily documentary in nature and is already in the custody of police, it was of the opinion that no useful purpose would be served in prolonging their incarceration.

It is settled law that the magnitude of the offence cannot be the only criterion for denying bail. The object of bail is to secure the presence of the accused at the trial. The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative and the person who has not been convicted should be held in custody pending trial only to ensure his attendance at trial; and to ensure that the evidence is not tampered with and the witnesses are not threatened, Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The high court granted bail to Mohan Kumar Jha, Mohd Shoiab Khan, Pushkar Chandrakant Pakhale and Aditya Gautam, who are in custody for last seven months, on furnishing a personal band of Rs one lakh each with two sureties of the like amount and directed them not to leave the national capital without prior court permission.

It further directed the four accused to report to the police station concerned thrice a week and not to tamper with the evidence or contact any witnesses.

According to the prosecution, during the second wave of COVID-19 in April, the crime branch police officials received inputs of illegal hoarding and supply of life-saving medicines, including Remdesivir, to treat coronavirus patients.

Police officials got the information that two of the accused are going to supply Remdesivir injections near Batra Hospital and they were apprehended along with the medicines but they were unable to given any prescription of doctor or bills or satisfactory answers, it said, adding that similarly, other accused were also arrested from other places.

The police said that at the time of arrest of one of the accused persons, empty vials, vial caps and a batch coding machine which was apparently used for the production of fake Remdesivir injection labels were also recovered.

The accused sought bail on the grounds that they were lodged in judicial custody for the last seven months and a charge sheet has been filed and that no useful purpose would be served by keeping them in jail.

The bail pleas were opposed by prosecutor Amit Chadha, who contended that a coordinated nexus of these individuals was operating to dupe innocent and desperate people whose family members were ill and these persons exploited the gullibility of innocent persons by selling fake Remdesivir injections at exorbitant prices.

Also read: A pandemic of armchair experts: How we decide who and what to believe

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