The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the CBI's plea against grant of interim bail to former ICICI Bank CEO-cum-MD Chanda Kochhar and her businessman husband Deepak Kochhar by the Bombay high court in a loan fraud case.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi issued notice to Chanda Kochhar and her husband on the probe agency's petition and sought their responses in three weeks.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the CBI, said the high court proceeded on a wrong presumption that the offence is punishable with maximum of seven years imprisonment without considering section 409 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust by public servant) which entails sentence ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.
The bench asked Raju how section 409 of the IPC came into play when ICICI was a private bank.
Raju replied that the bank may be private but it involves public money.
The bench said it is issuing notice to the couple and seeking their replies in three weeks.
The CBI has challenged the January 9 order of the high court granting interim relief to the Kochhars.
The top court had on October 10 questioned the CBI over not objecting to repeated extension of the two-week interim bail granted to them in January this year.
The high court had pulled up the CBI for arresting the couple in a "casual and mechanical" manner and "clearly without application of mind" in the loan fraud case and granted them interim bail.
The CBI arrested the Kochhars on December 23, 2022 in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan fraud case.
The couple had moved the HC challenging their arrest, terming it as "illegal and arbitrary".
They had sought their release from jail on bail by way of an interim order.
The high court had said the Kochhars' arrest was not in accordance with the provisions of law and they were entitled to be released on bail, pending the hearing and final disposal of their petitions.
The grounds for arresting the petitioners (Kochhars), as stated in the arrest memos, are unacceptable and contrary to the reason(s)/ ground(s) on which a person can be arrested, it had said.
Apart from the Kochhars, the CBI also arrested Videocon group founder Venugopal Dhoot in the case.
The central agency has alleged the ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore to the companies of the Videocon group in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, Reserve Bank of India's guidelines and credit policy of the top private lender.
The CBI had named Chanda Kochhar, who was ICICI Bank CEO and MD from 2009 to 2018, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot along with a slew of firms - Nupower Renewables (NRL), Supreme Energy, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries - as accused in the FIR registered under Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
Nupower Renewables is managed by Deepak Kochhar.
The central agency has alleged as quid pro quo (favour or advantage granted in return for something), Videocon group founder Dhoot made an investment of Rs 64 crore in Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL), and transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust managed by Deepak Kochhar through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.