The arrest of former ICICI Bank Managing Director Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in a loan fraud case by the Central Bureau of Investigation amounted to an abuse of power, the Bombay High Court said, according to PTI.

On February 6, the bench of Justices Anuja Prabhudessai and N R Borkar declared the arrest of Chanda Kochhar and Deepak Kochhar as illegal. The court confirmed a January 2023 interim order passed by another bench that had granted them bail.

The detailed order was made public on Monday.

The High Court said the CBI could not show what circumstances or supportive material existed to justify the arrests. "Such routine arrest without application of mind and due regard to the law amounts to an abuse of power," the court said.

The court also refused to accept the CBI’s argument that it arrested the Kochhars as they were not cooperating with the investigation. The bench noted that accused persons have the right to remain silent during interrogation.

"The right to silence emanates from Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, which gives an accused the right against self-incrimination. Suffice it to say that exercise of the right to remain silent cannot be equated with non-cooperation," it said in the order.

On December 23, 2022, the Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested the Kochhars, alleging that the ICICI Bank, under the leadership of Chanda Kochhar, sanctioned a Rs 3,250-crore loan to companies owned by the Videocon Group in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, the Reserve Bank of India rules and the credit policies of the private sector bank.

In January 2023, the High Court ordered their release, saying that their arrests were not in accordance with the law.