The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved the order on a writ petition filed by Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot challenging his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the alleged loan fraud case related to the ICICI Bank.
Venugopal Dhoot’s lawyer Sandeep Ladda had filed this petition in the court days after the prime accused, former ICICI CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar, were granted bail on the grounds of “illegal arrest by CBI”. The petition sought bail on the same grounds for Dhoot.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dhoot’s lawyer had moved a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking his release on medical grounds. Seeking immediate investigation in the alleged ICICI-Videocon loan fraud case, advocate Ladda presented before the court that there is a blockage in his client Venugopal Dhoot’s heart and urged that he needs to be immediately released on medical grounds.
The Videocon chairman’s advocate further said: “As CBI said, they arrested him because he [Venugopal Dhoot] was not cooperating with the investigation, but it is not the case. Dhoot has always cooperated in the proceedings of the case.”
“He even appeared 31 times as and when summons were sent to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). What could be the reason that it was not the ED but the CBI which has arrested him,” Advocate Ladda said. The CBI filed its reply and opposed the petition moved by the accused’s lawyer.
Venugopal Dhoot was arrested on December 26 last year from Mumbai in a case related to the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning a Rs 1,875 crore loan disbursed by ICICI Bank to the Videocon Group between 2009 and 2011.
During its preliminary inquiry, the CBI found that six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to the Videocon Group and companies associated with it between June 2009 and October 2011, in an alleged violation of the laid-down policies of ICICI Bank.
The agency claimed the loans were declared non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank. The CBI had arrested the other two main accused, former ICICI CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar on December 23, 2022, but the duo was released from the Byculla Prison and Arthur Road Jail on Tuesday.
The Bombay High Court observed their ‘arrest not in accordance with the law’ while granting them bail on Monday (January 9). The Bombay High Court, while allowing interim relief to the former ICICI Bank CEO and MD and her husband, observed that it is incumbent upon the police not only to record reasons for arrest in writing but, even in cases, where the police choose not to arrest.
“It is also incumbent on courts to satisfy themselves that there is due compliance of Sections 41 and 41-A, failing which, the same will ensure the benefit of the person suspected of the offence, entitling the person to be released on bail,” the court observed further.