The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar seeking her early retirement benefits which were revoked by the bank’s Board of Directors.
A Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti said that it will not interfere with the directions passed by the Bombay High Court restraining Kochhar from dealing with any of the 690,000 ESOPs already exercised by her between October 2018 to January 2019 and asking her to disclose gains if she has sold any of such shares.
In its impugned decision, the High Court had said that if Kochhar’s application for interim relief in her suit seeking specific performance of her early retirement benefits and other entitlements is allowed, it basically would decree the suit.
Kochhar, who joined ICICI Bank in 1984 as a trainee officer, went up the ranks over the years and was appointed as MD and CEO in 2009.
After a whistleblower letter surfaced in connection with the ICICI Bank-Videocon loan fraud case, Kochhar applied for early retirement, which was accepted by the ICICI Board in October 2018.
However, the Board said that ESOPs determined under Early Retirement Scheme would be granted only after the conclusion of the enquiry and the RBI’s approval.
After an enquiry was conducted by retired Justice BN Srikrishna, the Board of Directors resolved to treat the separation of Kochhar as “termination for cause” and decided to revoke all her existing and future entitlements such as any unpaid amounts, unpaid bonuses or increments, etc.
Against this, Kochhar had instituted a civil suit seeking specific performance of her early retirement benefits and other entitlements.