Deepak Kochhar.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Oct 8 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the Enforcement Directorate's response to the petition filed by businessman and former ICICI Bank chairman Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar seeking quashing of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered against him connection with money laundering case relating to the ICICI Bank-Videocon deal.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambani, while issuing notice to the EC, also asked them to file a status report regarding the health condition of Kochhar in view of a separate application filed by him seeking grant of interim bail over his current health condition as he is admitted to Apollo Hospital here after testing positive for Covid-19.

During the course of the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Kochhar, submitted that the ECIR registered against his client is bad in law and that he was not informed about the grounds of arrest in writing, which is mandatory practice under the provisions of the CrPC.

He also prayed before the bench to set aside the order passed by Special PMLA judge, Mumbai sending Kochhar to ED remand, as well as further remand orders issued against his client.

"Since the arrest of my client (Kochhar) is illegal, the remand orders passed subsequent the same would also be untenable and bad in law," Rohatgi argued.

Responding to the submissions made by Rohatgi, Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, representing the ED, raised preliminary objection on the maintainability of the petition contending that though the ECIR was recorded in Delhi but the offence was committed in Mumbai so the jurisdictional court in this case is special judge, Mumbai and appeal against the same would lie before the Bombay High Court.

Rohatgi disputed the position, saying Kochhar was seeking quashing of the entire proceedings over which the Delhi High Court will have jurisdiction.

The high court granted time to Mahajan to file a status report on the issue of territorial jurisdiction and medical grounds and listed the matter for further hearing on October 14.

Last month, the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea filed by Kochhar seeking court's direction to the ED for shifting him to Medanta Hospital, Gurugram, Max Hospital, New Delhi or Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi or any other private hospital in a private ward as he is 59 years of age and is suffering from various medical ailments including enlarged prostate.

However, after the court noted that Kochhar is under judicial custody of the Special Judge, Mumbai and is not in police custody, and refused to entertain the said petition.

"We are holding constitutional post of judges, we are not Jahangir," said Justice Bhambani while refuting to entertain the matter on the grounds of jurisdictional issue.

Kochhar, the husband of the high-profile former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, is facing charges of money laundering in the ICICI Bank-Videocon Group case.

The action came nearly a year after the Central Bureau of Investigation launched a probe against Videocon Group Director Venugopal Dhoot, his companies Videocon International Electronics Ltd. and Videocon Industries Ltd, and the Kochhars.

Following the CBI complaint, the ED launched its own probe into the money laundering angle, and earlier this year, provisionally attached assets valued at around Rs 78 crore including a flat in Mumbai, land, and plant and machinery of a wind power project in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which were "owned/controlled" by the Kochhars.

The probe revealed that bank loans were refinanced and new loans aggregating to Rs 1,730 crore were sanctioned to Videocon and its group companies, and these loans later became non-performing assets (NPA) for ICICI Bank on June 30, 2017.

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