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Quashing of a complaint should be an exception than an ordinary rule: Supreme Court

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.

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