Chanda Kochhar Retiral benefits

Supreme Court: In an appeal against the Bombay High Court’s order, whereby interim relief to Chanda Kochhar was denied for reinstatement of her Employee Stock Options (“ESOPs”) under the Employee Stock Option Scheme (“ESOS”) and clawback of bonuses and revocation of retirement benefits, including vested and unvested ESOPs, the Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, JJ. dismissed Kochhar’s petition.

Kochhar was working with the ICICI bank as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer when in July 2016, a news article surfaced containing allegations against her about loans granted to Videocon Group companies as a quid pro quo for investments by Mr. Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon Group or his affiliates in NuPower Renewables Pvt. Ltd. (‘NRPL’). NRPL is a company promoted by Mr. Deepak Kochhar, husband of the appellant. Justice B N Srikrishna Committee was formed to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations against her. While the inquiry was still pending, she addressed a letter requesting the Board of Directors of the ICICI to grant her early retirement. Therefore, she was seeking reinstatement of her ESOPs under the ESOS.

The ICICI filed a suit seeking clawback of bonuses and revocation of retirement benefits, including vested and unvested ESOPs. In November 2019, Kochhar filed a writ petition against the ICICI declaring that the communication dated 4-10-2018 issued by the bank was valid, subsisting, and binding on the respondent and the email dated 30-01-2019 and the letter dated 01-02-2019 from the bank was illegal, non-est, void ab initio, etc. The declaration was also sought to declare the communication dated 13-03-2019 issued by RBI as non-est, illegal, and void ab initio. The Single Judge dismissed the interim application filed by kochhar and restrained the bank from dealing with any of the 690,000 ESOPs already exercised by her and directed her to disclose if she has sold or dealt with any of such shares as well as disclose her gain from such a sale which shall be by way of affidavit of disclosure.

The Bombay High Court held that any grant of the interim reliefs as sought by her would cause irreparable injury and prejudice to the ICICI. Hence, Kochhar approached the Court.

The Court said that no case was made out for interference in the present petition.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Appearance for Chanda Kochhar: Senior Advocate Harish Salve

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