Bombay HC grants interim bail to Chanda and Deepak Kochhar; raps CBI for 'casual and mechanical' arrest

Bombay HC grants interim bail to Chanda and Deepak Kochhar; raps CBI for 'casual and mechanical' arrest
Chanda and Deepak KochharANI
  • The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in a loan fraud case.
  • The court said their arrest was not done in conformity with provisions of law.
  • The couple have been asked to deposit a cash bail amount of ₹1 lakh each with one or more sureties of the same amount.
The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim bail to former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in a loan fraud case, and came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation for making the arrest in a "casual and mechanical" manner and without application of mind. The CBI arrested Kochhars on December 23, 2022 in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case, and they are presently in judicial custody.

The couple had filed petitions in the HC challenging their arrest, terming it as illegal and arbitrary. The duo had sought to be released on bail by way of an interim order.

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and P K Chavan in its 49-page judgment on Monday said their arrest was not in accordance with the provisions of law.

The petitioners are entitled to be released on bail, pending the hearing and final disposal of the petitions, the HC said and listed the petitions for hearing on February 6.

The court noted that in the present case, the grounds of arrest are merely stated as non-co-operation and not giving full and correct disclosure.


"The reason given in the arrest memos to arrest the petitioners, having regard to the facts as stated aforesaid, appears to us, to be casual, mechanical and perfunctory, clearly without application of mind," the court said.

The bench held that the arrest of Kochhars was in violation of Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which mandates sending notice for appearance before the police officer concerned.

"According to the facts, the petitioners' (Kochhars) arrest was not done in accordance with the provisions of law. There has been non-compliance of section 41(A) thus warranting their release," the high court said.

"The arrest has not been in conformity with the provisions of law," it added.

The HC in its order said the arrests in a case may be authorised only if the investigating officer has a reason to believe that the arrest is necessary and person has committed the crime.

"Belief must be in good faith and not casual or on mere suspicion. The same must be made on credible material and no decision to arrest can be made on fancy or whimsical grounds," the HC said.

It said the grounds for arresting the petitioners as stated in the arrest memos are unacceptable and contrary to the reason(s)/ ground(s) on which a person can be arrested.

"Courts have time and again re-iterated the role of courts in protecting personal liberty and ensuring that investigations are not used as a tool of harassment," the HC bench said.

"Needless to state, that personal liberty of an individual is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate. Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful, does not mandate that arrest must be made," it added.

After registration of the case by the CBI in December 2017, the Kochhars have not only appeared before the agency but also submitted all documents and details, the bench said.

"Admittedly, during the period, 2019 till June 2022, for around four years, neither any summons were issued to the petitioners nor any communication was established by the respondent No.1– CBI with the petitioners," it said.

"What was the reason to arrest the petitioners after four years is not spelt out in the arrest memos," the judgment said.

The bench said even the special CBI court while hearing the remand of Kochhars had overlooked the mandate of law and said if the provisions of law have not been satisfied, then the court was duty-bound to release the accused forthwith.

"It is incumbent on the judicial officer authorising detention to be first satisfied that the arrest made is legal and in accordance with law and that all the constitutional rights of the person arrested, are satisfied. The same is not an empty formality," the HC said.

It directed the duo to deposit a cash bail amount of Rs one lakh each.

The couple's lawyer later said they would now initiate the process before the special CBI court for their release.

The HC said the duo shall cooperate with the probe and attend the CBI office as and when summoned.

The court also asked the Kochhars to surrender their passports to the CBI.

Apart from the Kochhars, the CBI has also arrested Videocon group founder Venugopal Dhoot in the case. He is also in judicial custody.

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

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 under Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The central agency has alleged that the ICICI Bank 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, 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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