A special court hearing the money laundering matters on Thursday rejected the bail plea sought by Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank’s former CEO Chanda Kochhar, in the ICICI-Videocon loan case. His plea was on the grounds that the chargesheet was not filed within the stipulated time.
Kochhar’s advocates Vijay Agarwal and Rahul Agarwal told the court in a hearing held through video-conferencing that Kochhar is entitled to bail by default as the chargesheet was not filed within the stipulated time of 60 days.
They argued that the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is not before court and still in the registry. They contended that on Wednesday, the agency sought an extension of Kochhar’s judicial custody under a provision wherein it can only be sought after the court has taken cognizance of the chargesheet. Since the cognizance is not yet taken by the court and the chargesheet is not before it, they argued that Kochhar is entitled to default bail.
Special Public Prosecutor for the ED Sunil Gonsalves pointed out that the chargesheet has already been filed on 3 November and is pending scrutiny by the office as there are five trunks full of documents to be verified. He said that this is not an outright case of not filing the chargesheet.
The court had, however, extended the custody till November 23 noting that prima-facie there is no default on the prosecution in filing the chargesheet.
Another bail plea filed by Kochhar on merits of the case will be heard on November 23. As per the agency’s case, a day after ICICI Bank sanctioned Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Limited (VIEL), Rs 64 crore was sent by Videocon Chairman and MD Venugopal Dhoot through a company to another Nupower Renewables Private Limited managed and controlled by Kochhar. Kochhar’s wife Chanda was a chairperson of the committee, which had sanctioned the loan. An amount of Rs 1,575 crore that was sanctioned by the bank to Videocon Group companies had turned non-performing assets. Chanda was involved in the decision-making process in sanctioning these loans, the agency has alleged.