The law is well settled that Courts would not thwart any investigation. It is only in cases where no cognizable offence or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report that the Court will not permit an investigation to go on. It was held by the decision of the privy council in case of King Emperor vs. Khwaja Nazir Ahmed, AIR 1945 PC 18 was reiterated in the case of Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Private Limited vs The State of Uttar Pradesh &ors., SLP (CRIMINAL) NO.4931 OF 2020 by the bench comprising of Chief Justice S.A.Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V.Ramasubramanian.
The facts of the case are, here the petitioner is a Companyheadquartered in Pune and is engaged in the business of manufacture, import and sale of passenger vehicles in India. The Automotive Research Association of India, which is a research institution of the automotive industry attached to the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises of the Government of India issued a notice dated 04.11.2015 to the Managing Directors of Skoda Auto India Private Limited, Volkswagen India Private Limited and Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited, calling upon them to show cause as to why they should not come to the conclusion that the vehicles manufactured and sold by them in India, are in violation of the requirements of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, as the vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen, when tested on road, indicate 39 times more NOx pollution compared with the tests carried out in the laboratory.
At about the same time, two original applications came to be filed before the National Green Tribunal,Principal Bench. The NGT recorded a prima facie finding that the claim of the manufacturers that they had not caused any damage to the environment, was not acceptable and was directed the manufacturers to deposit Rs. 100 crores with the CPCB. Later, one of the respondent filed a Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No.9233 of 2020 before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. In the said Writ Petition, the petitioners sought quashing of the FIR. However, Court protected the officers of the petitioner against arrest till the submission of the Report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C.
Aggrieved by the refusal of the High Court to quash a First Information Report) registered against them for the offences punishable under Sections 34, 471, 468, 467, 420, 419 and 406 IPC, the petitioner has come up with the above Special Leave Petition.
The first contention revolves around the pendency of the Civil Appeals arising out of the order of the NGT and the interim order passed by this Court in the Civil Appeals. 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 made by the manufacturers. Thus, the respondents can file a case.
The Supreme Court while concluding on whether FIR can be quashed or not, it was held that,
“In State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal, the power of quashing should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases. While examining a complaint, the quashing of which is sought, the Court cannot embark upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR or in the complaint.”
Thus, also relying on S.M. Datta vs. State of Gujarat, this Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition and rejected to file an FIR.