13 Jan 2023 9:13 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its order on the petition filed by Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot seeking interim release on bail in the ICICI Bank - Videocon loan fraud case.Dhoot alleged that his arrest on December 26, 2022 by the CBI was illegal as he was taken into custody despite cooperating with investigators. Therefore, the mandate under Section 41 of the CrPC...
The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its order on the petition filed by Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot seeking interim release on bail in the ICICI Bank - Videocon loan fraud case.
Dhoot alleged that his arrest on December 26, 2022 by the CBI was illegal as he was taken into custody despite cooperating with investigators. Therefore, the mandate under Section 41 of the CrPC wasn't followed, he argued. He has sought quashing of the FIR and remand orders, and bail in the interim.
The CBI counsel said there was no illegality in arrest.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Prithviraj Chavan had earlier granted bail to co-accused ex-ICICI bank MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar.
On Friday, the bench heard Senior Advocate Raja Thakare, who represents the CBI, and Advocate Sandeep Ladda for Dhoot, and reserved its interim decision.
Advocate Sandeep Ladda pointed out that the only reason cited for his arrest in the 'arrest memo' dated December 26, was that Dhoot "kept changing his versions and therefore not cooperating with the investigation."
Ladda submitted that the loans taken from ICICI bank in 2009 were repaid by 2012. To demonstrate cooperation, he said the ED hadn't found it necessary to arrest him in the money laundering case pertaining to the same loan transaction and that he appeared before the ED over 31 times.
However, Senior Advocate Raja Thakare for CBI submitted that the ED investigation could not be compared to the CBI investigation as there are other charges like Section 120B, and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act that the CBI is investigating.
On the point of a delayed arrest, Thakare said the agency needs to make an arrest only after it has enough material. "There are innumerable transactions woven in such a manner ... at that particular stage, the entire material would not have been available with the agency."
He added that the CBI gets the custody of the accused only for a limited period therefore the time must be used prudently.
Thakare disagreed with Dhoot's submission on cooperation. "They were all called to be confronted on 22nd December but all of them didn't appear together. He remained absent on 23nd because he knew he would be confronted with the Kochhars."
He argued that the CBI lost crucial days of Kochhar's custody because Dhoot didn't turn up even on December 25, 2022. CBI said they complied with Section 41A of the CrPC and that Dhoot's release would jeopardize the probe.
Moreover, Dhoot had no cash flow when seeking ₹300 crore loan from ICICI bank, the court was told.
Previously Advocate Ladda had told the court that Dhoot was summoned on December 15 but he was unable to appear due to health reasons, however, he did go before the agency on December 22, 2022.
Dhoot was arrested after the Kochhars and booked under Sections 7, 13(2) r/w 13(1) & (d) of PC Act, 420 & 120 B of IPC in the case being investigated by CBI
In his petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, Dhoot has sought quashing of the special CBI court’s remand orders of 26, 28 and 29 December, 2022 and asked the high court to declare his arrest in gross violation of Sections 41 and 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Article 14, 19(1)(d) and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The CBI began investigating the accused in January 2018 after reports that Videocon's Dhoot paid a firm - he had allegedly set up with Deepak and two relatives, six months after his firm got a Rs 3,250 crore loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.
The irregularities were with regard to the grant of six high-value loans worth around Rs 1,575 crore to five firms of the Videocon Group between June 2009 and October 2011. The loans were granted in contravention of the rules and policy of sanctioning committee, the agency has alleged.
These loans were later termed as non-performing assets resulting in wrongful loss to ICICI bank and wrongful gain to the borrowers and accused persons, the CBI said. The total misappropriation is to the tune of Rs.1,730 crore as of April 26, 2012, according to the agency.