The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday held that the retrospective termination of Chanda Kochhar from ICICI Bank is prima facie a valid termination. The former managing director and chief executive (MD&CEO) of ICICI Bank is also restrained by the HC from dealing with any of the 6.90 lakh shares of the Bank that she acquired in 2018.
A single bench of justice Riyaz Chagla observed that Ms Kochhar had not come to court with 'clean hands', says a report from LiveLaw.in
. "ICICI Bank did not have complete knowledge of the facts including the non-disclosures by Ms Kochhar (at the time of her resignation)...these facts were disclosed only on receipt of the inquiry report. I have held that the termination was a valid termination and Ms Kochhar didn't come to court with clean hands," the court said, adding, "Ms Kochhar is restrained by an order of injunction from dealing with any of the 6.90 lakh shares..."
According to the report, the orders were passed in Ms Kochhar's suit seeking "specific performance of her entitlements" when the Bank accepted her early retirement in 2018. Through the interim application, Ms Kochhar sought to restrain the bank from acting on her termination. In a separate application, ICICI Bank sought full disclosure of the profits she had made.
Ms Kochhar was sacked from ICICI Bank a few months after she voluntarily quit. Later she challenged her dismissal in January 2019, while the mandatory 'prior sanction' was given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in March 2019.
The Justice BN Srikrishna Committee that probed allegations against the former MD&CEO of ICICI Bank found that she violated the bank's code of conduct in dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties in the case of loans to Videocon that had routed a part of the money to a company owned by her husband Deepak.
In a releaese at that time, ICICI Bank says that following the receipt of the enquiry report and its due consideration and the conclusions thereat, after due deliberations, the board of directors decided to treat the 'separation' of Ms Kochhar from the Bank as a 'termination for cause' under the Bank's internal policies, schemes and the code of conduct with all attendant consequences. (Read: Srikrishna committee indicts Chanda Kochhar
In March 2020, a division bench justice NM Jamdar and justice MS Karnik had dismissed her plea challenging her termination as the MD&CEO of ICICI Bank. The bench accepted ICICI Bank's contention that the petition was not maintainable as it was a contractual dispute concerning a private body.
In her plea filed in November 2019, Ms Kochhar had also challenged the private bank's actions seeking to recover various amounts towards the clawback of bonuses and stock options given to her between April 2009-March 2018 for her alleged role in extending loans of Rs3,250 crore to the Videocon group, which benefited her husband Deepak Kochhar. (Read: Bombay HC dismisses Chanda Kochhar's plea against her sacking as ICICI chief )