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"Alleged Offence Grave But Trial Would Take Ample Time": Delhi High Court Grants Bail To Three Officials Accused In Biocon Bribery Case

Nupur Thapliyal
6 Sep 2022 7:30 AM GMT
Alleged Offence Grave But Trial Would Take Ample Time: Delhi High Court Grants Bail To Three Officials Accused In Biocon Bribery Case
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to three officials accused in connection with Biocon bribery case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), observing that though the offence alleged is grave, the trial in the matter would take ample time.A bench of Justice Anu Malhotra noted that chargesheet was already filed and investigation in the matter was...

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to three officials accused in connection with Biocon bribery case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), observing that though the offence alleged is grave, the trial in the matter would take ample time.

A bench of Justice Anu Malhotra noted that chargesheet was already filed and investigation in the matter was completed. It thus granted bail to Dr. S. Eswara Reddy (Joint Drugs Controller), L. Praveen Kumar (Associate Vice President of M/s Biocon Biologics Limited) and Dinesh Dua (Director of M/s Synergy Network India Private Limited).

CBI had filed an FIR in June this year under sec. 120B, 420, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sec. 7, 7A and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The agency had alleged that the accused, S Eswara Reddy, working as Joint Drug Controller, was dealing with the processing of files related to applications for approval of drugs and vaccines by various pharma companies. It was alleged that he received three files of M/s Biocon Biologics Limited, Bangalore including one file relating to waiver of Phase-III, Clinical trial of "Insulin Aspart Injection" for processing and approval.

In this backdrop, it was alleged that a bribe amount of Rs. 30,000 was paid by the co accused Guljit Sethi to the Assistant Drug Inspector for processing the file.

As per CBI's status report, is was alleged that Reddy in criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons and other unknown officers of CDSCO, had manipulated minutes of meeting of Subject Expert Committee and included the third file of M/s Biocon Biologics Limited, Bangalore in SEC meeting which resulted in wrongful gain to the entity.

The CBI had alleged that credible information had been received that accused Praveen Kumar had conspired with other co-accused Guljit Sethi to pay Rs. 9 Lacs to the CDSCO officials for getting favour in matters of Biocon Biologicals Limited pertaining to three files including the one relating to waiver of phase-III clinical trial of "Insulin Aspart‟ injection pending in CDSCO. It was also alleged that in furtherance of this conspiracy, Rs. 4 Lacs was delivered to the accused E. Eswara Reddy. The accused were then arrested on June 20, 2022.

While granting bail to the three applicants, the Court took note of the fact that the chargesheet in the matter was filed and that the investigation was completed.

Noting further that the voice samples of the accused persons have already been taken, the Court observed:

"….though undoubtedly the offence alleged to have been committed (if proved) by the applicants is grave, the trial in the matter would take ample time."

"…there is nothing to indicate that despite the recommendation made by the Special Expert Committee for waiver of Phase-III clinical trial in the country to M/s Biocon Biologics to import and market Insulin Aspart Injection for the treatment of the diabetic condition subject to the condition that the Phase-IV clinical trial in India would be conducted which also includes a sub-set population to generate pharmacokinetic/ pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) and immunogenicity and to submit the protocol to CDSCO before placing the drug in the market as per guidelines in the country that the said recommendation of the SEC has so far been approved and given effect to by the Drug Controller General of India of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization."

The Court also opined that it cannot be overlooked that the alleged intercepted calls between the accused persons have to be weighed at the altar of admissibility and legality of evidence.

"Though the public health would undoubtedly amount to an issue in relation to the public emergency or the existence of a public safety interest, there is nothing presently placed on record to indicate the invocation of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 by the CBI," the Court said.

The Court thus granted bail to three accused officials subject to their furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.1,00,000 each with two sureties of like amount.

Case Title: DR. L. PRAVEEN KUMAR v. CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 843

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