The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been into the Niper scam, scanning the alleged irregularities in appointments, wrongful extension and non-reporting of theft of scientific instruments. Nine officials of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education Research (Niper) in Sector 67 of Mohali were booked for allegedly misuse of funds released by the central government for the establishment of intellectual property rights department and making inflated purchases, sleuths on K Bhutani ( director of Niper) after crossing the retirement age of 62 years, how wing commander P J P Waraich (retd) was allegedly appointed against the procedure and why the theft in the department of pharmaceuticals was not reported. The non-supply of stipend money meant for research students is also under investigation. Though the FIR is particularly registered for diverting Rs 2.25 crore and purchasing global patent database software Sci-finder at a higher cost, other issues are also part of the investigation. A senior CBI official said, “Bhutani should has been relieved from his current post in 2013. In the case of appointment of Waraich as registrar, rules were siphoned. The prime complaint against Niper officials was misuse of central funds to purchase the software at higher rates from a Pune-based company. Sources said the company supplied annual licences for accessing global patent database software Scifinder at the rate of 31,000 US dollars to others, including PGI, while it supplied the licences to Niper at 55,000 US dollars, causing a loss of crores of rupees. Sources said a few accused were grilled at the CBI headquarters in Sector 30 but they failed to supply relevant documents. The nine accused officials were former director Prof (Dr) P Ramarao, Bhutani, Waraich, finance and accounts officer M Jose, former registrar Bhupinder Singh, section officer (budget and accounts) Hardeep Singh, former deputy registrar Rajesh Moza, head of department of pharmaceutical department Prof Arvind Bansal and former dean Saranjeet Singh. Though initial complaints were filed by three sacked Niper professors Parikshit Bansal, Nilanjan Roy and Neeraj Kumar, the CBI lodged an FIR on a secret information, making the three supporting witnesses in the case. Statements of the three were recorded to establish misappropriation of funds. Sources said before lodging the case, Bhutani was questioned at length in connection with all allegations levelled against him.


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