ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case: HC says arrest of Chanda Kochhar, husband illegal

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday held as “illegal” the arrest of ICICI Bank`s former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chanda Kochhar and her businessman-husband Deepak Kochhar by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an alleged loan fraud case.

A division bench of Justices Anuja Prabhudessai and N R Borkar confirmed a January 2023 interim order passed by another bench granting the duo bail soon after their arrest in the case.

The couple was arrested by the CBI on December 23, 2022, in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case.

They immediately moved the HC challenging their arrest and sought it to be declared as illegal. By way of an interim order, they also sought to be released on bail.

On January 9, 2023, the HC, in its interim order, granted bail to the duo after coming down heavily on the CBI for making the arrest in a “casual and mechanical” manner and without application of mind.

On Tuesday, the bench led by Justice Prabhudessai allowed the duo`s petition, thus declaring their arrest as “illegal” and confirming the earlier interim order.

Apart from the Kochhars, the CBI had also arrested Videocon group founder Venugopal Dhoot in the case. He, too, was granted bail by the HC in January 2023 in its interim order.

The central agency has alleged that ICICI Bank had sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group companies promoted by Dhoot in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, Reserve Bank of India guidelines and credit policy of the private sector lender.

The CBI had named Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar as well as Dhoot along with Nupower Renewables (NRL), managed by Deepak Kochhar, Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd as accused in the FIR registered in 2019 under Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The central agency has alleged that ICICI Bank, when it was headed by Chanda Kochhar, sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to these companies in violation of norms.

It further alleged that as a part of quid pro quo (a favour granted in return for something), Dhoot made an investment of Rs 64 crore in Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL), and transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust managed by Deepak Kochhar through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.

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