The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday ordered the state government to explain its stand on a plea by two persons seeking protection from detention in so called fake COVID-19 testing scam during the Haridwar Kumbh. The single bench of Justice RC Khulbe passed the order while hearing the petition by Sarat Pant and Malika Pant, who are co-owners of Max Corporate Services. Max Corporate Services is one of the key defendants in the case. The Chief Medical Officer Haridwar had logged a case with the police, alleging that tests were performed by Max Corporate service providers during the fare in a fake manner to benefit themselves.
The petitioners had appeared in court demanding that the police were going to seize them though they were fully cooperating in the probe. The petitioners claimed they have approached the Investigation Officer in the case five times so far and can be approved for protection against arrest in accordance with the law. Sharat Pant and Mallika Pant had in their petition said that they are service providers in Max Corporate Services. No employee of Max Corporate was present during the trial and data entry. All the testing and data entry was done under the direct supervision of the local health department officials.
They further asserted that the test stalls that were placed in Kumbh Mela had received direct permissions and approvals from government officials who were present on the site. The petition inquired that if fraud was in fact being committed, why did the officials keep silent during the entire period of the Kumbh Mela. The CMO had received a letter of complaint demanding that the sender’s ID and phone number had been used by the labs performing the test in Kumbh Mela, while no registration or sample was given by him for conducting rapid antigen examination. Previously, the court had stayed their detention on the grounds of the Supreme Court’s verdict in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar case which stipulates a stay of arrest in case of punishment for the offence is less than seven years.