The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the termination of Chanda Kochhar from the post of CEO of ICICI Bank was prima facie “valid” and dismissed her interim application seeking post-retirement benefits. A single bench of Justice R I Chagla also directed Kochhar to not deal with the bank’s 6.90 lakh shares she had acquired in 2018. It asked Kochhar to file an affidavit within six months disclosing dealings made, if any, with respect to the shares.
Justice Chagla dismissed an interim application filed by Kochhar seeking specific performance of her former employer’s contractual obligations towards benefits due to her since her early retirement from the bank on October 4, 2018.
“I have held the termination as valid termination,” Justice Chagla said while pronouncing the order.
In her application, Kochhar sought specific performance of the entitlements and benefits that were unconditionally provided to her when the bank accepted her early retirement in 2018.
The bank could not have terminated a person who had already retired, the application said.
The benefits granted to her unconditionally included employee stock options that were exercisable till 2028.
The ICICI bank had also filed an application seeking a direction to Kochhar to not deal with the shares and sought for full disclosure of the profits she had made.
In May 2018, the bank had initiated an enquiry against Kochhar following a complaint about her alleged role in granting out of turn loans worth Rs 3,250 crore to the Videocon Group, which benefitted her husband Deepak Kochhar.
Kochhar went on leave thereafter and later applied for early retirement, which was accepted.
The bank had then said it had treated her separation as ‘Termination for Cause’ and had also sought regulatory approval from Reserve Bank of India for Kochchar’s termination of appointment as is mandatory under the provisions of the RBI Act.