Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, DInesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has refused to interfere with the termination of Chanda Kochhar as the Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank. The bench said,
“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order for the reason that the only controversy in these proceedings is whether the resignation of the petitioner having earlier been accepted and thereafter her services been terminated, the latter could take place or not. This would fall within the realm of contractual relationship between the petitioner and the private bank.”
Chanda Kochhar, the Ex- Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank, was terminated from her service and same was approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). ICICI, in its meeting held on 29 May 2018, constituted an enquiry by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India. In June 2018 the Petitioner informed ICICI that Petitioner would go on leave till the enquiry is completed. By letter dated 3 October 2018, the Petitioner sought early retirement. ICICI, by the communication dated 4 October 2018 accepted the request for early retirement subject to certain conditions. On 27 January 2019, the report of the enquiry was submitted. The report was adverse to the Petitioner. In the meeting held on 30 January 2019, the Board of the ICICI treated the separation of the Petitioner’s service as a Termination for Cause. A communication to that effect was issued to the Petitioner. By further communication dated 1 February 2019, ICICI revoked the retirement benefits of the Petitioner. Correspondence ensued between the parties. The Petitioner called upon the ICICI to restore to the Petitioner the existing and future entitlements, including unpaid amounts, stock options, medical benefits. ICICI refused the request.
“… merely because the approval under Section 35B(1)(b) is questioned, that cannot infuse a public law element in this dispute, which remains a contractual dispute. For the contractual remedies, the Petitioner will have to approach the appropriate forum and not writ jurisdiction.”
[Chandra Deepak Kochhar v. ICICI Bank Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 969, order dated 01.12.2020]
For Petitioner: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi
For Respondent: Senior Advocate Darius Khambata