A Division Bench of Allahabad High Court has refused to quash FIR lodged against Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd for installing cheating devices to bypass emission norms.
Allahabad High Court has observed that the allegations of installing cheating devices against the Auto Company are a matter of Investigation, therefore cannot be interfered.
In the Instant case, the petitioner, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd, filed a writ petition and requested the Court to quash the FIR dated 10.07.2020 registered at Noida Sector 20 Police Station, Gautam Budh Nagar. They also requested the court to issue a stay order in the case.
Brief facts of the Case Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd vs State of UP & Ors
As per the FIR, the complainant had purchased 7 Audi brand cars worth several crores of rupees through authorised dealerships of the Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd.
The petitioners had assured the complainants that emission norms in India were not as strict in other countries and that there were no cheating devices installed in the vehicles sold by the petitioners.
However, when the complainant read the order dated 07.03.2019 passed by the National Green Tribunal, they came to know that the petitioners had installed a cheat device in all the vehicles manufactured by them. The device showed lower emission levels when tested. The complainant felt cheated and filed the FIR against the petitioner.
Arguments Before the Court
Arguments raised by the counsel of the petitioners:-
The counsel for the petitioner stated that they have already filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order passed by National green Tribunal on 07.03.2019. It was further stated that the Supreme Court has issued notices in the appeal and has directed the authorities that no coercive steps should be taken against the petitioners. The counsel has stated that in light of the directions of the Supreme Court, the FIR should not have been filed in the first place.
It was further argued that the National Green Tribunal has left it open to the Central Pollution Control Board if they want to prosecute the petitioners.
Arguments raised by the counsel of the Complainant
The counsel for the complainant stated that cheating devices installed in the vehicles manufactured by the petitioner is a very big incident and questions were raised even in the Lok Sabha. As per the details placed before the Lok Sabha, 2.75 lakh vehicles manufactured by the petitioner were recalled under the guise of software updation and repair.
In their reply to show cause notice issued by Automotive Research Association of India, the petitioners have stated that out of 2.75 lakh vehicles that were recalled, many had emission levels that were higher than the permissible BS-IV norms. The counsel stated whether these increased levels were due to faulty emission or cheating devices is a matter of investigation.
Learned AGA, Mr A.N Mulla submitted that the directive issued by the Supreme Court that no coercive steps should be taken against the petitioner will only be binding on NGT and CPCB as they were a party in the case. However, the directive cannot be applied to private individuals who might initiate action against the petitioners if they felt cheated like in the instant case.
Decision Of the Court
The Court observed that whether cheating devices were installed in the cars purchased by the respondent and whether they satisfy BS-IV norms should be investigated and that they don’t want to interfere in the investigation based on an erroneous interpretation of the interim order of the Supreme Court. Accordingly, the Court refused to quash the FIR and the writ petition filed by the petitioner was dismissed.
However, the Court gave one concession to the petitioners by directing the authorities that the petitioner should not be arrested in this case till the submission of police report as per Section 173 (2) Cr.Pc.
Title: Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd vs State of UP & Ors
Case No. : Crm Misc W.P 9223 of 2020
Date of Order: 1.10.2020
Coram : Hon’ble Justice B. Amit Sthalekar and Hon’ble Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav
Counsel For the Petitioner: Mr Syed Imran Inrahim ;
Counsel for Respondent Mr Gopal Swarup Chaturvedi