The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a special leave petition (SLP) filed by German car manufacturer Skoda-Volkswagen (VW) seeking to quash an FIR registered over alleged installation of cheat emissions devices in its vehicles.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian dismissed the SLP filed by the German car manufacturer.
Skoda-Volkswagen will have to face prosecution in case registered in Uttar Pradesh under charges of cheating, after the top court junked its petition to quash an FIR in Noida.
The FIR, has named the car manufacturer's top officials, for over installing cheat devices to misrepresent emission levels.
The court did not agree with the company's contention that it should not face any criminal case since the top court had earlier stayed Rs 500 crore fine imposed upon it by the National Green Tribunal. The bench said: "The order of the NGT, passed on the applications filed by certain individuals not claiming as purchasers of vehicles, cannot be taken as an impediment for an individual who purchased cars from the manufacturers, to lodge a complaint, if he has actually suffered on account of any representation."
On October 1, the Allahabad High Court had declined to entertain the company's plea seeking to quash the FIR lodged at Gautam Budh Nagar on July 10, but protected the company officials from arrest till the filing of the charge sheet, provided they offer full cooperation during the investigation.
The bench noted that the power of quashing should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases.
The company argued the complaint filed against it more than two-and-half-year of purchase was malicious and the FIR is based entirely upon the order of the NGT. "The mere delay on the part of the third Respondent (complainant) in lodging the complaint, cannot by itself be a ground to quash the FIR. The law is too well settled on this aspect to warrant any reference to precedents. Therefore, the second ground on which the petitioner seeks to quash the FIR cannot be countenanced", said the top court.
The complainant said he had purchased 7 Audi cars from the authorized dealer, but only three cars show up on VAHAN portal of the government. On this aspect, the top court this is a question of fact which has to be established only in the course of investigation.
"In a petition for quashing the FIR, the court cannot go into disputed questions of fact," the bench said.
The petitioner, an amalgamation of three Companies, namely Skoda Auto India Private Limited, Volkswagen India Private Limited and Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited. It is responsible for the business operations of five automobile brands: Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Lamborgini.
The German car manufacturer faced global outrage after reports related to "diesel gate scandal" emerged, which pointed at the damage caused to the environment by emissions from cars allegedly fitted with manipulative devices.