On September 8, a Mumbai Court had remanded Deepak Kochhar to custodial interrogation of ED till September 19. The federal agency is probing allegations of quid pro quo in loan transactions between ICICI bank and Videocon group involving former ICICI chief Chanda Kochhar and Videocon’s Venugopal Dhoot.
Deepak Kochhar was found Covid-19 positive on September 14. Armed with the AIIMS report, the agency rushed to the Mumbai Court seeking to transmit Kochhar to judicial custody “during treatment”. For the agency was in the process of confronting Deepak Kochhar with documentary evidence and co-accused.
But with Deepak Kochhar testing Covid-19 positive, the agency had no choice but to admit him in AIIMS. This meant losing out time granted by Court to interrogate Kochhar till September 19.
“Counsel for ED submitted that Deepak Kochhar may be transmitted to judicial custody during treatment period and ED is reserving the right of further custody of accused”, reads the order passed by a Mumbai Court on September 14.
The Court perused the medical papers, AIIMS report and application moved by ED and decided to transmit Deepak Kochhar to judicial custody.
“Considering the submission and circumstance Deepak Kochhar is transmitted to judicial custody during treatment period. After testing negative and discharge from hospital, Deepak Kochhar be produced before this Court within two days for further necessary order”, reads the order. The case has been adjourned to September 19.
When contacted, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, counsel for Kochhar said “Production before the Court without video conferencing or physical appearance is illegal. So my client as of now is in illegal custody. My office as his lawyer or his family has no contact with him despite the Court order. Moreover we have not been informed about moving such an application in Court despite ED being fully aware that my office is representing Deepak Kochhar”. He added that ED’s action “will not stand the scrutiny of higher Courts”.
While “police custody” means the concerned investigative agency has the physical custody of the accused for custodial interrogation, judicial custody means that the accused is in the custody of the concerned Judicial Magistrate. A maximum of 15 days of police custody is permitted after the arrest of the accused.
ET was the first to report on September 9 that a performance guarantee worth Rs 7 crore given by a Videocon group company on behalf of a company belonging to Deepak Kochhar, businessman husband of former ICICI bank chief Chanda Kochhar, has come under the scanner of ED.
The agency had sought details of the performance guarantee before arresting Deepak Kocchar on Monday. The guarantee was valid for five years, from 2011 to 2016, as per documents gathered by ED.
Besides ED, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also investigating the alleged quid pro quo deal in loan transactions.
Kochhar’s wife and former ICICI bank chief Chanda Kochhar and Videocon group managing director VenugopalDhoot are co-accused in the case.
CBI has accused Chanda Kochhar of receiving “illegal gratification” from Videocon through her husband for sanctioning a term loan of Rs 300 crore. ED had registered a money laundering case last February after CBI had booked the Kocchars and Dhoot.
The Kochhars and Dhoot have denied the allegations levelled by both CBI and ED.
During her questioning by the ED last year, Chanda Kochhar had denied any wrongdoing and said the loan approval was a collective decision and not that of an individual.