The Allahabad High Court has recently dismissed a plea that sought to quash an FIR lodged against Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd., filed by an Audi owner in the wake of 2019 finding of NGT that the company had installed ‘cheat devices’ in the vehicles sold by them.
The bench comprising of Justices B Amit Sthalekar and Shekhar Kumar Yadav stated that “We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel for the parties and we are of the opinion that the question as to whether a ‘cheat device’ was installed in the vehicles purchased by the respondent no. 3 and whether they satisfy the BS-IV norms or not, is a matter of investigation and the investigation cannot be interfered with by this Court on an erroneous interpretation of the interim order of the Supreme Court.”
As per reports, on 10th July 2020, an FIR was registered against Volkswagen under Sections 34, 471, 468, 467, 420, 419, and 406 of the Indian Penal Code at Sector 20 police station in Noida. The respondent was the state of Uttar Pradesh and two others.
It was alleged in the FIR that the complainant had purchased seven Audi cars from the petitioner through their authorized dealer. On purchase, the complainant is stated to have been assured that the company had not installed any cheat devices in vehicles meant to be sold in India, since India has a growing market for Audi vehicles and as emission norms in India were not as strict as they were in other countries.
However, the complainant later came to be aware of a March 2019 order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which found Volkswagen guilty of having installed a ‘cheat device’ to show lower pollution emissions during the laboratory testing.
Senior Advocate Naveen Sinha counsel for the Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd., mentioned before the Court that the NGT had passed an order in March 2019 imposing damages and an enhanced amount of compensation amounting to Rs. 500 crores against Audi in its order. Aggrieved by the NGT’s order, Volkswagen filed an appeal before the top court.
Subsequently, on 6th May 2019, the apex court passed an order directing as to no coercive steps to be taken against the company.
In view of the interim protection granted by the Supreme Court, Volkswagen told the High Court that the challenged FIR was nothing but malicious prosecution and that it could not have been lodged at all. Therefore, it contended that the same was liable to be quashed.
Nonetheless, while noting that the writ petition lacked merit and opining that the matter requires investigation the bench asserted “The prayer for quashing the FIR is refused. The writ petition lacks merit and is accordingly, dismissed.”