Infosys fails to prove ex-CFO deleted data from laptop
BENGALURU: Infosys could not provide enough evidence to substantiate that former CFO Rajiv Bansal deleted data from company laptop, leading to dismissal of its claim of breach of agreement by the arbitrator, two people privy to the proceedings told ET.
The Bengaluru-headquartered software services firm was ordered last week by arbitrator RV Raveendran to pay the remaining severance of Rs 12.17 crore with interest after about 14 months of Bansal taking the matter to arbitration tribunal.
Bansal had invoked his rights to take Infosys to arbitration proceedings in April 2017 after the Infosys board halted payouts on his Rs 17.38 crore severance package, awarded at the time of his exit in December 2015.
“Their (Infosys) main defence was breach of the agreement committed by Rajiv (Bansal) and because the data in his laptop was deleted. The arbitrator has negated all those contentions saying there is no such breach.
It has categorically been held that Rajiv has not breached the agreement and there is nothing to show he himself deleted any data. And there cannot be a breach of the severance agreement,” one of the persons cited above told ET. The person requested for anonymity.
“Infosys also had a counterclaim. They suffered damages because information was not given back to them. That was a laughable defence. It was not pursued very seriously, and got rejected, he added.
While Bansal was represented by Indus Law, law firm Nishit Desai Associates defended Infosys before the arbitrator. ET had reported in May that Infosys had cited data deletion as among the reasons to deny Bansal his dues.
Bansal’s severance has been a bone of contention in the governance battle waged by Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy against the company’s board last year. Murthy said the “hefty” severance promised to Bansal could have the appearance of “hush money”.
The second person said the award by arbitrator Raveendran, former Supreme Court judge, was comprehensive.
“It is extremely meticulously drafted award looking into all the possible aspects...the arbitrator has looked through the evidence in its entirety, relevant documents and relevant pleadings, contentions of all the parties and whatever defence was taken by Infosys he has considered all of them and negated them by sound reasoning both in terms of law and factual reason,” said the person, who is aware of the arbitrator’s decision.
Infosys declined to make any further comment beyond its regulatory filings made last week that claimed the verdict of the arbitrator was confidential. Nishith Desai Associates did not respond to a mail seeking its reaction or views on the decision. Legal experts say lack of evidence, in such claims data deletion, has all the chance of getting rejected.
“If there is not enough evidence, the claim of data deletion falls flat. And the relief sought in that case are likely to be rejected. From a legal perspective, if data belonging to a company was deleted in an unauthorised way is an issue that comes under the IT Act,” said Salman Waris, managing partner, TechLegis Advocates and Solicitors.