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CBI plea disposed in Kochhar Loan Fraud case by SC

CBI plea disposed in Kochhar Loan Fraud case by SC

The Supreme Court today concluded its deliberations on the contentious matter involving former ICICI Bank CEO and MD, Chanda Kochhar, and her husband, Deepak Kochhar, in connection with a high-profile loan fraud case. The apex court's decision comes in response to the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) challenge against the Bombay High Court's ruling last year, which granted interim bail to the Kochhars.

A bench comprising Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal disposed o,f the petition after Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the CBI, informed the court that the Bombay High Court had recently delivered its verdict in the main case, although the judgment had yet to be made public. The apex court clarified that it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case but was merely disposing of the CBI's plea. It granted both parties the liberty to challenge the main verdict of the high court as per legal procedures.

The legal saga stems from the arrest of Chanda Kochhar and her husband by the CBI on December 23, 2022, in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case. The Kochhars swiftly moved the Bombay High Court, challenging their arrest and seeking bail as interim relief. On January 9, 2023, the high court, in an interim order, granted them bail and criticized the CBI for their "casual and mechanical" approach in the arrest process, questioning the lack of due diligence.

The CBI contested the interim order, arguing that the high court had overlooked the severity of the offense, particularly under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to criminal breach of trust by a public servant and carries a potential sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment. The apex court, in response, questioned the applicability of Section 409 to ICICI Bank, a private entity, prompting the CBI to highlight the involvement of public money in the alleged misconduct.

The CBI's allegations revolve around ICICI Bank's sanctioning of a hefty credit of Rs 3,250 crore to companies affiliated with the Videocon Group, led by Venugopal Dhoot, purportedly in violation of banking regulations and RBI guidelines. The FIR, registered in 2019, named Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot, and others, accusing them of criminal conspiracy and corruption under relevant sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Furthermore, the CBI contended that Dhoot had made significant investments in companies linked to Deepak Kochhar, allegedly as part of a quid pro quo arrangement. These transactions, conducted between 2010 and 2012, are claimed to involve irregularities and financial improprieties.

In its ruling, the Bombay High Court deemed the arrest of the Kochhars as "illegal" and upheld its earlier decision to grant them interim bail, sparking a legal battle that eventually reached the Supreme Court. Throughout the proceedings, the apex court maintained a cautious stance, refraining from expressing any opinion on the case's substance while emphasizing the parties' right to pursue further legal recourse.

 

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