Chanda Kochhar's plea against sacking has no legal ground: ICICI Bank to HC

Chanda Kochhar
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday heard a petition filed by former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar challenging the validity of her termination by the lender. The hearing took place as the bank opposed a plea by Kochhar to keep the matter part-heard before the earlier bench of Justices Ranjit More and Surendra Tavade. 

The bank is seeking recovery of amounts towards the clawback of bonuses given to her from April 2006 to March 2018 after her termination of services by the bank. Kochhar moved the high court on November 30, 2019, challenging "termination" of her employment by ICICI Bank, which also denied her remuneration for her alleged role in granting "out of turn loans worth Rs 3250 crore to Videocon Group which benefitted her husband Deepak Kochhar".

The bank had given a composite reply to the court on all the objections raised by Kochhar stating that Section 35B of the Banking Regulation Act of 1949, under which she is seeking nullification of the termination of her services, is a “regulatory provision”. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had also said that its approval to the termination was within its jurisdiction and was given after considering the request of Kochhar’s former employer.

The bank has raised the objection that Kochhar’s writ petition is not maintainable, that “it is a private banking company and the writ petition seeks to contest what are purely private contractual terms”. Hence, the bank argued that Kochhar’s writ petition did not have a legal basis.

ICICI Bank

Earlier in January, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets and cash belonging to the Kochhar duo, which included her South Mumbai apartment at CCI Chambers, valued at Rs 3.5 crore (book value) along with assets of projects of Deepak Kochhar’s Nupower Renewables and its subsidiaries such as Wind Farms, Echanda Urja Private worth Rs 74 crore (book value). Besides, a cash amount Rs 10.5 lakh, which the ED had seized during the search operation from the premises of Pacific Capital Services, another company of Deepak Kochhar.

The total book value of these assets attached is to the tune of Rs 78 crore, however, the market value is believed to be higher at around Rs 800 crore. 

The CBI is investigating the case on the issue of conflict of interest involving loans to Videocon Industries under Chanda Kochhar’s leadership and her husband Deepak Kochhar receiving a favourable financial deal from Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot. 


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