The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Skoda Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd and others against an FIR lodged in Uttar Pradesh's Noida by a purchaser of Audi cars over the alleged installation of cheat emission devices.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said quashing of a complaint should be an exception than an ordinary rule.
The court did not agree to a contention by the company that it should not face any criminal case since the top court had earlier stayed the Rs 500 crore fine imposed upon it by the National Green Tribunal.
"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," the bench said.
The top court also pointed out that the Allahabad High Court by its order on October 1, 2020, rejected the plea for quashing of the FIR lodged in Gautam Buddh Nagar on July 10, 2020, but it had protected the company officials from arrest till the filing of chargesheet, provided they cooperated in the investigation.
The company also contended that the complaint filed against it after more than two years of purchase was malicious. It also alleged that the complainant claimed to have bought seven Audi cars but the Vahan portal of the Union government showed him to have purchased three cars.
To this, the court said the mere delay in lodging the complaint cannot by itself be a ground to quash the FIR. With regard to the number of cars bought by the complainant, the court said this can be ascertained only in the course of investigation or trial.
"In a petition for quashing the FIR, the court cannot go into disputed questions of fact," the bench said.
The petitioner is responsible for the business operations of five automobile brands: Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Lamborgini.
The company faced global outrage following the "diesel gate scandal".