Justices Sanjiv Khannaand SVN Bhatti, presiding over the bench, stated that it was not a case warranting interference, expressing their disinclination to challenge the high court’s decision.Senior advocate Harish Salve, representingKochhar, pointed out that the high court had dismissed the petition without any discussion or findings.
The bench, after reviewing the facts, maintained that there was no justification for interference. Kochhar contested the May 3 order of the Bombay High Court, which rejected her petition, asserting that granting interim relief would harm the bank irreparably.
Another Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Bela M Trivedi, postponed the hearing on a separate plea filed by the CBI challenging the interim bail granted to Kochhar; the plea will now be heard on December 11.
In her quest for retirement benefits from ICICI Bank, Kochhar cited various documents and court orders, contending that no prima facie case was established in the bank’s lawsuit. She also referred to the November 2022 order of the high court’s single judge bench, which directed her not to deal with the Rs 6.90 lakh worth of shares she acquired in 2018.
Kochhar’s plea before the high court sought the specific performance of entitlements and benefits provided to her when the bank accepted her early retirement in 2018. She argued that the bank could not terminate someone who had already retired. The unconditional benefits included employee stock options exercisable until 2028.
In May 2018, an inquiry was initiated against Kochhar by the bank following a complaint about her alleged involvement in granting out-of-turn loans worth Rs 3,250 crore to the Videocon Group, benefiting her husband, Deepak Kochhar. After going on leave, Kochhar applied for early retirement, which the bank accepted, treating it as a ‘Termination for Cause’ and seeking regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of India for her termination, as mandated by the RBI Act.