A special Central Bureau of Investigation court here on Wednesday extended till December 29 the CBI custody of former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon group founder Venugopal Dhoot in connection with a loan fraud case. The probe agency had arrested the Kochhars last Friday after questioning them briefly. Dhoot was arrested on Monday.
The CBI, represented by special public prosecutor A Limosin, told the court that considerable time was lost in hearing food-related and other applications, including the visit of family members, during the previous remand.
Therefore, the agency requires their custody for two more days to probe to further confront the accused with each other in order to ascertain material facts of the case, he said.
The Kochhars and Dhoot were produced before special judge S M Menjoge at the end of their earlier remand on Wednesday.
While pressing for their remand, the probe agency submitted that the accused persons are required to be interrogated thoroughly on the voluminous documents involved in this case.
The trio are further required to be interrogated to unearth the “criminal conspiracy” with other unknown public servants and private persons. Opposing the CBI’s plea, advocate Kushal Mor, appearing for the Kochhars, submitted that therr is no change in grounds for seeking the custody as they are the same as the previous ones. There must be some progress to seek further custody, he added.
Mor reiterated that the entire arrest is in violation of law and it is illegal as sanction was not sought before arresting the accused. Any subsequent action will not make it legal and they should be released, he submitted.
Advocate S S Ladda, representing Dhoot, also submitted that there should be some indication of progress and remand can never be granted by matter of right. Is there any statement to the fact that during this (previous) custody they found any new material, based on which they are seeking further custody, he argued.
In the entire remand application, there is nothing to show that they have found new material, the advocate added. After hearing both sides, the court extended the custody of the Kochhars and Dhoot till December 29.
The CBI had named the Kochhars and Dhoot, along with companies Nupower Renewables (NRL) managed by Deepak Kochhar, Supreme Energy Private Limited (SEPL), Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited, as accused in its FIR registered in 2019 under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI has alleged that ICICI Bank had sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to companies of the Videocon Group promoted by Dhoot in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines, and credit policy of the bank.
According to the CBI, a sanctioning committee headed by Chanda Kochhar in 2009 approved a term loan of Rs 300 crore to VIEL in contravention of the rules and policies of the bank by abusing her official position as a public servant. The day after the loan was disbursed, Dhoot transferred Rs 64 crore to NRL from VIEL through SEPL.