CBI’s Arrest Of Chanda Kochhar, Husband Was Abuse Of Power: High Court

Mumbai: In a scathing order against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Bombay High Court has ruled that the arrest of former ICICI Bank MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in a loan fraud case was carried out “without application of mind and due regard to the law”, and amounted to “abuse of power”.

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

The high court said that CBI had been unable to “demonstrate the existence of circumstances or supportive material” based on which it arrested the couple, as per the made available on Monday.

“The absence of such circumstances renders the arrest illegal,” the court ruled.

Earlier this month, the court confirmed an order passed by a division bench granting interim bail to Chanda. As an interim measure, the high court had granted Chanda interim bail on the ground that prima facie a case for illegal arrest was made.

The high court also refused to accept CBI’s argument that the Kochhar couple was not cooperating with the investigation, arguing that “right to silence emanates from Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, which gives an accused the right against self-incrimination.”

“Suffice it to say that exercise of the right to remain silent cannot be equated with non-cooperation,” the high court said.

Chanda, who was ICICI Bank CEO and MD from 2009 to 2018, Deepak and Videocon chief Venugooal Dhoot, along with the firms – Nupower Renewables (NRL), Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries – have been named by the CBI as accused in the FIR registered for criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

Dhoot was granted bail in the case in January last year.

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