The CBI approached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, June 28, challenging a lower court order denying it the custody of those arrested in the CDSCO bribery scandal allegedly involving a senior executive of Biocon Biologics, officials said. The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the parties concerned and will hear the case on July 2, they said.
The CBI could not question the accused arrested by it even after seven days, officials said and expressed apprehension that the delay might impede the investigation. A special court in New Delhi had sent all the five accused, including a joint drug controller at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to judicial custody at Tihar Prison after they were arrested for alleged bribery of Rs 4 lakh.
The CBI request seeking their police remand for custodial interrogation was denied twice by the special court which sent them to judicial custody. Sources said CBI officials were disappointed that the court rejected their application for custody twice as immediate questioning of the accused arrested through a "trap" is of extreme importance for the agency so they do not get a chance to develop an alibi in their defence.
The CBI had arrested joint drugs controller (JDC) S Eswara Reddy, associate vice president of Biocon Biologics L Praveen Kumar and three others on June 21 in a case of alleged bribery to the tune of Rs 9 lakh.
Biocon Biologics, a subsidiary of Biocon, however, denied the allegations of bribery. The agency had nabbed Reddy with a middleman while allegedly receiving Rs 4 lakh, out of the total promised bribe of Rs 9 lakh. It is alleged that Praveen Kumar had cleared the payment of Rs 9 lakh as a bribe through Guljit Sethi who used to look after regulatory work for Biocon Biologics.
Besides Reddy and Kumar, the CBI had also arrested Dinesh Dua, director at Synergy Network India Private Limited, who allegedly gave a bribe to Reddy, Guljit Sethi, an alleged conduit of Biocon Biologics, as well as assistant drug inspector Animesh Kumar in the case.
All the accused but Praveen Kumar were arrested from Delhi. Praveen Kumar was brought from Bengaluru, they said.
A spokesperson for Biocon Biologics had denied the allegations and said they were cooperating with the investigating agency. "We deny the bribery allegations made in certain media stories. All our product approvals are legitimate and backed by science and clinical data. Our bAspart is approved in Europe and many other countries," the spokesperson said.
"We follow the due regulatory process for all our product approvals by DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India). The entire application process in India is online and all meeting minutes are in the public domain. We are cooperating with the investigation agency," the spokesperson said.
The CBI has alleged that Sethi, acting as a conduit for Biocon Biologics, conspired with Praveen Kumar, head of the company's National Regulatory Affairs (NRA), and other senior executives of the company to pay Reddy a total bribe of Rs 9 lakh. This was for favourably recommending the file of Insulin Aspart Injection' to the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) meeting on May 18, 2022 for waiving the Phase 3 clinical trial, it alleged.