ICICI-Videocon case: Bombay HC bails out Kochhar couple, pulls up CBI

New Delhi, Jan 10: The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim bail to former ICICI Bank honcho Chanda Kochhar and her businessman husband Deepak Kochhar, while pulling up the Central Bureau of Investigation which arrested them flouting the provisions of the law.

A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan ruled that the Kochhars’ arrest violated the CrPC’s Sectiob 41A which mandates sending a notice for appearance before the police official concerned.

Accordingly, the high court ordered the couple’s release on a cash bail of Rs 100,000 each and furnishing a bond with surety of Rs 100,000 each within two weeks.

Another co-accused in the same case, Videocon Group Ltd. Chairman V. N. Dhoot, who was also arrested later, continues to remain in judicial custody.

The Kochhar couple was nabbed on December 23, after which a Mumbai Special CBI Court initially sent them to CBI custody and later on December 29, sent them to judicial custody.

Soon afterwards, the Kochhars had challenged their “illegal and arbitrary” arrest in the Bombay High Court, which pronounced its verdict on Monday, and posted the matter for further hearing on February 6.

The high court pulled up the CBI for the “casual and mechanical and perfunctory” manner of arrest without application of mind and absence of a woman officer when Chanda Kochhar was nabbed.

Referring to the grounds of arrest as cited by the CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare that “the petitioners (Kochhars) were not cooperating and not disclosing true and full facts of the case”, the division bench said it cannot be the sole reason for their arrests and appears to be contrary to the facts on record.

Justice Mohite-Dere and Justice Chavan said that “the petitioners’ (Kochhars) arrest was not done in accordance with the provisions of the law… there has been non-compliance of Section 41A thus warranting their release”.

The judges noted that after the CBI registered the case in December 2017, the Kochhars have always appeared before the investigators and submitted all details and documents.

During the period from 2019 till June 2022, almost four years, the CBI did not issue any summons to the Kochhars nor established any communication with them, and “what was the reason to arrest them after four years is not spelt out in the arrest memos”, said the court.