Monday 19 February 2024

Bombay High Court Declares Arrest of Ex-ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and Husband "Illegal"

The Bombay High Court has declared the arrest of former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as "illegal" and an "abuse of power." This decision comes in a detailed order issued on February 19, 2024.


Key Points of the Order:

  • The court found that the arrest was not based on any new evidence discovered during the investigation, but on material already known to the CBI at the time of registering the FIR in 2019.
  • The court criticized the CBI for not arresting the couple for three years despite knowing the same information.
  • The order states that "routine arrest without application of mind and due regard to the law amounts to an abuse of power."
  • The court emphasized the accused's right to silence, stating that exercising this right cannot be equated with non-cooperation.
  • The court noted that the petitioners were not interrogated or summoned for over 3 years after the FIR, despite the gravity of the offense.

Background:

  • The couple was arrested by the CBI in December 2022 in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan fraud case.
  • They challenged their arrest in the High Court, which granted them interim bail and found the arrest prima facie illegal.
  • This final order by the High Court confirms the earlier findings and strongly criticizes the CBI's actions.

Implications:

  • This decision raises questions about the CBI's investigation procedures and its use of arrest powers.
  • It could set a precedent for other cases where arrests are challenged based on similar grounds.
  • The future course of the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan fraud case remains to be seen.

Additional Notes:

  • The order clarifies that while an investigating agency can interrogate an accused, the accused has the right to remain silent.
  • It highlights the importance of following due process and legal procedures in criminal investigations.

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