In a monetary suit filed on 10 January, the bank sought dismissal of Kochhar’s petition and stated that the issue can be decided in a commercial suit.
“ICICI has filed a suit seeking recovery of amounts towards the claw back of bonuses given to the petitioner (Kochhar) from April 2006 to March 2018 pursuant to the termination of the petitioner’s services,” the bank said in its affidavit.
A clawback is a provision in which incentive-based pay, like a bonus, is taken back from an employee by an employer following misconduct or declining profits.
The affidavit was submitted in response to a petition filed by Kochhar challenging her sacking, months after she voluntarily left the second largest private sector lender.
“On December 8, 2016, Kochhar executed a claw back agreement with the bank pursuant to which ICICI is entitled to a return of the previously paid variable pay or deferred variable pay from the petitioner in the event of a determination of a gross negligence or an integrity breach by Kochhar.
“The petitioner’s conduct has caused substantial embarrassment to the bank and all the stake-holders, and has led to irreparable reputational loss to the bank,” it stated.
The bank further stated that Kochhar flagrantly violated the ICICI Group Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
“The petitioner (Kochhar) deliberately committed violation with a malafide intent to obtain illegal benefits,” it stated.
The affidavit further said that Kochhar’s petition challenging her sacking by the bank claiming violation of RBI rules is an “malafide attempt” to secure valuable stock options of the bank.
A division bench of Justices R.V. More and S.P. Tavade on Monday directed Kochhar’s advocate Sujoy Kantawalla to go through the affidavit. It posted the matter for further hearing on 20 January.
Kochhar moved the HC on 30 November 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 ?3250 crore to Videocon Group which benefitted her husband Deepak Kochhar”.
Kantawalla argued that Kochhar’s termination from her post came months after the bank approved her voluntary resignation on 5 October 2018 and therefore the bank’s action is “illegal, untenable, and unsustainable in law”.