The Bombay High Court has confirmed the interim bail granted to former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband, Deepak, in a CBI case related to alleged irregularities in loans provided to the Videocon Group led by Venugopal Dhoot. The bench of Justices Anuja Prabhudessai and Nitin R Borkar affirmed the interim bail order, which is consistent with the previous interim order issued in January 2023. The court concluded the hearing on January 23, reserving its verdict.
In January of the previous year, a bench led by Justice Revati Mohite-Dere questioned the CBI regarding the delay in its investigation, given that the FIR was registered in 2019. The court granted interim bail to the Kochhars, who were arrested on December 23, 2022, stating that their arrests did not comply with legal procedures and were not in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Justice Mohite-Dere’s bench highlighted that the reason for arresting the Kochhars four years after the investigation began was not clearly stated in the arrest memos. Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing Chanda, argued that her arrest was illegal and violated CrPC provisions. He emphasized Chanda’s cooperation with the CBI throughout the investigation.
On behalf of the CBI, Advocate Kuldeep Patil argued that the interim order only considered the arrest memos and not the case diary and remand application, which allegedly demonstrated the Kochhars’ non-cooperation with the inquiry. Patil also contended that there was no restriction on a male police officer arresting a female accused if there was no physical interaction and the arrest occurred in the presence of a female police officer.
Chanda Kochhar has another pending petition challenging the sanction granted by ICICI Bank to prosecute her in the CBI case. The sanction is necessary under the Prevention of Corruption Act, as a bank employee is considered a public servant. In May of the previous year, a division bench upheld a single-judge bench’s order denying interim relief to Chanda Kochhar in a suit seeking entitlements and retirement benefits following her early retirement from the bank in 2018.
ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar have been under regulatory scrutiny since March 29, 2018, following allegations that Dhoot provided crores of rupees to a firm set up with Deepak and two relatives, six months after his company received a Rs 3,250-crore loan from the bank in 2012.