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Supreme Court rejects Chanda Kochhar plea seeking interim release of retirement benefits from ICICI Bank

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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant interim relief to former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar on her petition seeking post-retirement benefits from the private bank.

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice SVN Bhatti refused to interfere with the May 3 order of the Bombay High Court and dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Kochhar against the bank.

Appearing for Kochhar, Senior Advocate Harish Salve contended that the High Court had dismissed the petition without any discussion or finding.

However, the Apex Court said it has seen the facts involved and the case did not warrant any interference.

The SLP by Kochhar referred to various documents and order of the court and said no prima facie case was found in the suit filed by the bank against her.

The petition further referred to the November 2022 order passed by the single-judge bench of the High Court, which had directed Kochhar not to deal with the ICICI Bank’s shares worth Rs 6.90 lakh acquired by Kochhar in 2018.

On May 3, the High Court had dismissed the suit filed by Kochhar on the grounds that grant of any interim relief to her would cause irreparable damage and prejudice to the bank.

Kochhar had moved the High Court seeking specific performance of the entitlements and benefits unconditionally provided to her when the bank accepted her early retirement in 2018.

She had contended that the bank could not have terminated a person who had already retired.

The petition further said that the benefits granted to her unconditionally included employee stock options that were exercisable till 2028.

In May 2018, the bank initiated an inquiry against Kochhar following a complaint about her alleged role in granting out of turn loans worth Rs 3,250 crore to the Videocon Group that benefited her husband Deepak Kochhar.

Kochhar went on leave thereafter and later applied for early retirement, which was accepted. The bank had then said it treated her separation as ‘Termination for Cause’ and also sought regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of India for her termination of appointment as is mandatory under the provisions of the RBI Act.

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