Chanda Kochhar, Former ICICI Bank chief executive, has moved to the Bombay High Court against her ex-employer. Reason? She claims that they terminated her from her post even when the bank had agreed to her request for early retirement.

She has said that Sandeep Bakshi was named her successor only after ICICI Bank had accepted her request for an early retirement, further pointing out that the bank accepted her retirement request in October 2018. In February 2019, the bank issued her a termination letter. In a petition, she has challenged the ‘purported termination’ and denial of the agreed remuneration.

According to Kochhar, her termination is “illegal, untenable, and unsustainable in law”. She has sought the court’s intervention for resolving the issue.

The hearing is scheduled to take place on December 2 by the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice MS Karnik.

“She (Kochhar) has filed a writ petition against the bank for terminating her service without prior approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in breach of a statutory obligation,” said one of the two judges cited above. “The bank took this step after having accepted her request for early retirement with effect from October 4, 2018, by the board of the bank.”

On January 30, ICICI Bank’s chief human resources officer (CHRO) conveyed her a message that he has been asked by the board to inform her that following receipt of the enquiry report from retired justice BN Srikrishna and due consideration of the enquiry report, the board decided to treat her separation from the bank as ‘termination for cause’ under the bank’s internal policies, schemes and the code of conduct. The termination also required clawback of all bonus payments made from April 2009 to March 2018.

“The respondent’s (ICICI Bank) CHRO claimed that as per the records of the respondent, an aggregate of Rs 7.4 crore is paid to the petitioner (Kochhar) as bonus during the period,” said the petition. “The letter further reiterated that early retirement benefits given to the petitioner stand revoked.”

Senior counsels Vikram Nankani and Sujay Kantawala are representing Kochhar in the case whereas senior counsel Darius Khambata and law firm Veritas Legal are representing ICICI Bank.

How it started

It all started in January when  ICICI Bank’s internal inquiry found that Chanda Kochhar had violated disclosure norms on conflict of interest. It concluded that her October 2018 exit would not be treated as normal resignation but as dismissal, the board had said.

The bank said it would also seek to claw back bonuses handed out during her tenure as CEO, and she were to lose all dues and stock options for which she otherwise would have been eligible.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Also: Chanda Kochhar violated ICICI’s Code of conduct says enquiry report

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