Arrest of Chanda Kochhar, husband by CBI amounted to abuse of power: High Court

The Bombay High Court said the December 2022 arrest of former ICICI Bank MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a loan fraud case amounted to “abuse of power” as it was carried out “without application of mind and due regard to the law”.

Chanda and Deepak Kochhar were arrested on December 23, 2022, in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan fraud case.

In an order made available on Monday, the High Court said that “such routine arrest without application of mind and due regard to the law amounts to an abuse of power”.

It also said that the CBI had been unable to “demonstrate the existence of circumstances or supportive material” based on which it arrested the couple.

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

The Bombay High Court also refused to accept the CBI’s argument that the Kochhars were not cooperating during the investigation, saying the “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 latest development came more than two weeks after the court confirmed an order passed by a division bench granting interim bail to Chanda Kochhar.

As an interim measure, the Bombay High Court had granted Kochhar interim bail on the ground that prima facie a case for illegal arrest was made.

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

Dhoot was also arrested in the case.

Published By:

Karishma Saurabh Kalita

Published On:

Feb 19, 2024

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