SC rejects Skoda's plea against FIR on cheat devices

SC dismisses Skoda Volkswagen's plea to quash FIR for alleged use of cheat device in car

An FIR was registered in Uttar Pradesh by a customer over the alleged use of “cheat device” in the company's diesel car

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Skoda Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd against the lodging of an FIR in Uttar Pradesh over alleged cheat emission devices installed in its cars.  

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian did not find any merit in the contention of the company that it should not face any criminal case since the top court had earlier stayed the fine imposed upon it by the National Green Tribunal.

On November 4, the court had reserved its order on the petition by the company against the Allahabad High Court's order rejecting their plea to quash the FIR.

The court had then asked why Skoda Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd should not face the trial against it in Uttar Pradesh over alleged cheat emission devices.  

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, representing the German car-maker, submitted that in March 2019, a penalty was imposed by the National Green Tribunal, which was stayed by the top court. 

To this, a bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde replied, "I know, I was party to that order. But what that has to do with the criminal prosecution?" 

The bench also said prima facie the court does not agree with him. 

Singhvi maintained that the criminal prosecution was not fair at this stage. They have also accused officers outside India, he added.  

He said that vehicle was bought in 2018, and for nearly two and a half years there were no complaints. 

“While the NGT matter was pending, this FIR was lodged where the allegations are same as the application before the NGT,"  Singhvi said. 

"But, why should the trial not go on? NGT will not determine the correctness of your action," the bench said.

The bench noted that a criminal complaint was filed by a citizen while the NGT passed a general order on cheat devices. 

"We are admirers of the company as it is a legendary motor vehicle manufacturer, and we have had the highest respect for it since World War II," the bench said.

Senior advocate Senior Maninder Singh, representing the complainant, had then submitted that the investigations in the FIR should go on. He also said that High Court has already granted a stay against the arrest of the company officials.