EBM News
EBM News

HC declines to entertain former ICICI Bank CEO Deepak Kochhar plea to be shifted to private hospital

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday declined to entertain the plea of Deepak Virendra Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, seeking to be transferred to a private hospital here or in Gurugram for treatment as he has tested positive for COVID-19 and suffers from other ailments.

Kochhar, presently admitted at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) run by AIIMS at Jhajjar in Haryana, wanted to be shifted to Medanta Hospital in Gurugram or Max Hospital or Sir Gangaram Hospital here or any other private hospital in a private ward at his expense.

Justice A J Bhambhani declined to entertain the matter, saying that Kochhar was presently in the judicial custody of a special PMLA court in Mumbai and therefore, the high court cannot shuffle him from one place to another.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which arrested him on September 7 under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case probe, said it has no objection to him being moved to a private hospital for treatment at his expense.

The ED counsel further said that the only problem was that he was presently in the judicial custody of the Mumbai court which will have to pass orders for moving him.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Kochhar, said that his client was infected by COVID-19 as he was locked up in a police cell at Chanakyapuri police station when ED was not questioning him and thereafter, he was admitted to AIIMS Delhi which referred him to NCI, Jhajjar.

He said if he can be admitted in AIIMS, Delhi and then be shifted to NCI, Jhajjar without the Mumbai court’s permission, then he can be shifted to a private hospital.

Aggarwal also said that while his client was arrested in Mumbai, the ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) against him was lodged in Delhi.

Justice Bhambhani, however, did not agree with his contentions saying if ED committed a wrong, “I cannot perpetuate it by shuffling you around”.

“If you were in police custody, you would have had a case. Since you are in judicial custody of the Mumbai court, I cannot shuffle you around. You are barking up the wrong tree,” the judge said.

The high court suggested that the petition be withdrawn and moved before the Mumbai court.

Subsequently, Aggarwal said he will withdraw the petition in view of the ED stand that it was not opposed to his client being shifted to a private hospital.

“Petition dismissed as withdrawn,” the high court said.

Aggarwal also urged the court that some directions be passed with regard to lack of social distancing or any other precautions in the lock ups of police stations as lot of people are kept in small cells there which increases risks of COVID infection.

Justice Bhambhani declined to pass any such order saying when he was not entertaining the matter, he cannot issue any directions in it.

The Mumbai court had sent him to ED custody till September 19.

According to Kochhar’s plea in the high court, ED on September 14 informed his wife that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and the very same day it moved an application before the special court seeking that he be sent to judicial custody and the prayer was granted.

The ED, while pressing for his remand, had told the court that the investigation has revealed that on September 7, 2009, the ICICI bank sanctioned a loan worth Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL).

Kocchar’s wife was the chairman of the bank’s sanctioning committee when this loan was given to VIEL, it had contended.

The ED had filed its case pursuant to an FIR registered by the CBI against Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and others.

ED has accused the Kochhars and their business entities of “illegal sanctioning of loans amounting to Rs 1,875 crore to the Videocon Group of companies”.