In the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case, the Bombay High Court (HC) in its earlier order, made available today, termed the arrest of former managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, and her husband Deepak Kochhar a case of "abuse of power".

Coming down heavily on the premier investigation agency CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), the high court said the two high-profile arrests in the loan fraud case were done "without the application of mind and due regard to the law" since no material evidence was provided basis which the couple were arrested.

In a huge relief to the former celebrated banker and her husband, the Mumbai High Court on February 6, 2024, had confirmed another division bench's interim order granting them bail.

The court also junked the CBI's contention of their non-cooperation being the prime reason for their arrest, saying the defendant had the right to remain silent under Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution. The couple were arrested in the case on December 23, 2022.

After their arrest, the Kochhars moved the High Court, following which they were granted interim bail on January 9, 2024. The court observed the lapse on the CBI's part, saying though the FIR was lodged in the case in 2019, the couple were called for interrogation over three years later in 2022. Another high-profile arrest in the case was of Videocon group founder Venugopal Dhoot, though he received bail in the case in January 2023.

The Bombay High Court last month ordered the release of Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan case. Chanda's lawyers argued that she was arrested without complying with Section 46(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure as there had been no presence of a female police officer during her arrest. The Kochhars' petition in the high court also questioned the timing of the arrest as their son's wedding was scheduled to be held in January.

The duo was granted bail two weeks after they were arrested by the CBI for alleged irregularities in ₹3,250-crore worth of loans provided to the Videocon group.

The CBI, which launched an enquiry into the alleged bank fraud in 2018, had filed a first information report (FIR) against Kochhar, her husband and Dhoot in 2019.

Kochhar found herself under a cloud of suspicion after a whistleblower levelled allegations of corruption and nepotism with respect to loans extended to Videocon and Dhoot's investment and stake transfer in NuPower Renewables, a company floated by Chanda Kochhar's husband, Deepak Kochhar. It has been alleged that after Videocon secured the loan, the company's chairman Dhoot invested ₹64 crore in NuPower Renewables. An independent probe, set up by the bank's board in May 2018 and led by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, had also found that Kochhar violated the bank's code of conduct in disbursal of loans to Videocon.

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