Kumbh Covid testing scam: Uttarakhand HC grants protection to accused from arbitrary arrest

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand High Court has granted protection to executives of Max Corporate Services from arbitrary arrest in connection with the alleged fake Covid testing scam during the Haridwar Kumbh Mela and asked the agency to join the investigation.

Justice N S Dhanik on Wednesday granted protection to the accused from arbitrary arrest in the scam after the Delhi-based agency’s partner Mallika Pant went to the court on behalf of the agency challenging the FIR against it, the petitioner’s counsel Kartikey Hari Gupta said.

However, the court asked the agency to cooperate in the investigation and appear before the investigation officer in the case on Friday, he said.

ALSO READ | Kumbh testing scam: Sleeping at the wheel

An FIR has been lodged against Max Corporate Services and two ICMR-accredited labs it had engaged — Nalwa Laboratories and Dr Lal Chandani Labs Limited — for allegedly conducting around one lakh fake COVID-19 tests during the Haridwar Kumbh Mela using random phone numbers.

The Haridwar police had filed the FIR under several sections of the IPC, the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.

A special investigation team (SIT) has been set up to probe the matter.

“Protection from arbitrary arrest was granted to my client in the light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arnesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar case placing checks and balances on the powers of the police before an arrest,” Gupta said.

Max Corporate Services had argued before the court that it was just a “service provider”, and the collection of samples and data entry were not its responsibility but that of two ICMR-accredited labs it had engaged.

The agency had also expressed its willingness before the court to cooperate with the investigation.