Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot gets bail from judicial custody in ICICI Bank loan case

The Bombay High Court in its hearing on Friday granted bail to Videocon Group's CEO.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 06:32 PM IST
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Videocon Group's CEO, Venugopal Dhoot | Image credit: Wikipedia

The Bombay High Court on Friday granted interim bail to Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot in a loan case concerning ICICI bank, stating in its detailed order that remanding courts have ignored compliance with mandatory provisions regarding the arrest. 

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Prithviraj K. Chavan said in a 48-page order that “no serious efforts” have been made by remanding courts to scrutinize the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI)

application seeking Dhoot’s detention.

Dhoot already handed over all documents and cooperated with CBI: Court

The order noted that Dhoot had already handed over all documents and cooperated with the CBI by attending its office in New Delhi on several occasions despite his deteriorating health. 

It said that a bare look at the grounds of arrest mentioned by the agency in its arrest memo shows that it is “quite casual” and “without any substance”. It is without any particulars, the bench said, on how he has not cooperated with the CBI in view of the fact that he had already attended its office but could not be interrogated for want of the presence of his co-accused - ICICI bank’s former MD and CEO Chanda Kocchar and her husband Deepak Kocchar. 

The order noted that the CBI had summoned Dhoot on Dec 24 to appear before it the next day for questioning. It said that interestingly, instead of serving the notice personally to him or sending an email, the CBI pasted the notice on the wall of Dhoot’s former office building in Mumbai. Dhoot’s counsel had submitted that he was residing in Aurangabad at the time. The bench said this “seems to be nothing but a calculated move (by the CBI) …to concoct non-attendance and non-cooperation (of Dhoot)…” The bench further noted that Dhoot realized this and immediately addressed emails on Dec 25. Referring to the email, the contents of which form a part of its order, the order said that the email demonstrates “the diligence and bona fide” of Dhoot. In the email, the septuagenarian said he was out of Mumbai for treatment but was cancelling his appointment and that he would be at the CBI’s office by noon of Dec 26. The CBI arrested Dhoot on Dec 26. 

HC calls out the “falsity” of the CBI’s stand

In another part of the order, the HC called out the “falsity” of the CBI’s stand where it alleged that Dhoot deliberately did not appear before it on Dec 23 despite receiving its notice the previous day. It alleged this was to avoid confrontation with the Kocchars. The bench said, “The falsity of the statement is apparent from the facts…that on the same day, the petitioner (Dhoot) has already been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate and he had attended its office.” It noted that in support of this, Dhoot had tendered the gate pass of the ED’s office. The HC questioned why the CBI did not tender any material to that effect or inform the remanding court.

As per the CBI’s case, Dhoot had given kickbacks to Chanda Kocchar for sanctioning loans to six Videocon group companies. In one of the instances of quid pro quo, Dhoot had transferred Rs. 64 crores to a company managed by Deepak Kocchar a day after a loan sanctioning committee headed by Chanda when she was heading the bank, had sanctioned a Rs. 300 crore loan to a Videocon company. ICICI bank suffered a loss of Rs. 1,730 crores.

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