INDIA. Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar, who were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in connection with a case of an irregular loan of Rs. 3,250 crores sanctioned by the ICCI to the Videocon group.
The case was registered on January 22, 2019, and they were arrested on December 23, 2022, by the CBI. After initial CBI custody, the special CBI court remanded them to judicial custody on December 29, 2022.
Now the Kochhars will be released subject to furnishing provisional cash bail of Rs. 1 lakh each. This comes as a huge reprieve to them before the wedding of their son, scheduled for January 15. Chanda has been lodged in Byculla Women’s Prison, while Deepak and Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot are in Arthur Road Jail, located in South Mumbai.
Chanda and Deepak have been arrested on allegations of cheating and irregularities in the case of a loan of Rs. 3,250 crores granted to the Videocon Group in 2012. It was alleged that the loan was granted in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines, and the credit policy of the bank.
As quid pro quo, Dhoot invested Rs. 64 crores in Deepak Kochhar’s Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Private Ltd. (SEPL) and transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust, managed by Deepak, through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.
On Monday, a division bench comprising Justices Revati Mohite Dere and PK Chavan held that the arrest of Kochhars violated Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which mandates sending notice for appearance before the concerned police officer. “As a result, sections 41-A and 60-A of the Criminal Procedure Code warrant their release on bail,” the court stated.
Senior Advocate Amit Desai, along with advocate Kushal Mor, appearing for Chanda, argued that she was arrested without complying with Section 46(4) of the Cr. P.C, as no woman officer was present during her arrest.
Besides, in the connected money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had made a statement before the Supreme Court that they did not require her custody. The ED had also recorded 14 statements under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and she had cooperated with the ED.
Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari, appearing for Deepak, informed the court that he was granted bail in the PMLA case in March 2021. Even those proceedings were stayed by the trial court.
However, Senior Advocate Raja Thakare, appearing for the CBI, denied any violation of statutory or constitutional provisions during the arrest of the Kochhars. He submitted that the agency’s arrest was to get clarity and sequentially explain all related transactions through the confrontation of the accused.
In May 2018, ICICI initiated an inquiry against Chanda Kochhar. Soon, she went on leave and applied for early retirement, which was accepted.
Then the bank treated her separation as “termination for cause” and sought the RBI’s approval for ending her appointment. On November 10, the Bombay High Court dismissed her claim for retirement benefits, saying her termination from her post was valid.
Meanwhile, Dhoot’s application for bail and quashing of the first information report (FIR) filed against him by the CBI, is expected to be heard by the same bench on Tuesday. Dhoot was arrested on December 26, and the CBI special court denied his bail application on January 5, stating that it lacks the authority to review its own order and remanded him in custody.
Also Read: Chanda Kochhar Fails to Get Relief from the Court in ICICI-Videocon Loan Case