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

A 'cheat' or 'defeat device' is a software installed in auto engines to manipulate pollution emission tests. Volkswagen was accused of the malpractice globally a few years ago.

November 26, 2020 / 03:26 PM IST

The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea by Skoda Auto Volkswagen India challenging an FIR registered in Uttar Pradesh by a customer over the alleged use of cheat device in its diesel car by the company to manipulate emission norms.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian pronounced the verdict and dismissed the plea by the German car maker.

On November 4, the top court had reserved the verdict on the plea saying as to why the investigation should not go on in the case.

A 'cheat' or 'defeat device' is a software installed in auto engines to manipulate pollution emission tests.

Volkswagen was accused of the malpractice globally a few years ago.

During the hearing the automobile maker argued that in December, 2015 the complaint was made in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and in March, 2019 a penalty was imposed on it which was stayed by the apex court.

An FIR was also lodged in UP and the company moved the high court seeking its quashing, it said.

The apex court passed the order on the appeal filed by Skoda against the Allahabad High Court order refusing to quash the FIR and dismissing its plea.

The high court had said that whether a cheat device was installed in the vehicles is a matter of investigation and it cannot be interfered with by the court on an erroneous interpretation of the interim order of the top court.

The top court had earlier restrained the Centre from taking any "coercive" step against the company for non-submission of Rs 500 crore fine imposed by the NGT for damaging environment through use of "cheat device" in its diesel cars in India.

The green panel had directed the car maker to deposit the amount within two months with Central Pollution Control Board.

The tribunal had enhanced the compensation amount of Rs 171.34 crore, which was recommended by a NGT-appointed committee, to Rs 500 crore as a means of "creating deterrence”.

The auto maker, however, had said that it did not violate the BS-IV norms and that the test results were based on "on road testings” for which there were no prescribed standards.

Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced the recall of 3,23,700 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI conducted tests on some models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.

The automobile giant had admitted to the use of 'defeat device' in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results.

After the tests by ARAI, Volkswagen India had undertaken to rejig the software by recalling around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms.

The company, however, had said that the recall in India was purely voluntary in nature as it did not face any charges regarding violating emission norms in India, unlike in the US.

first published: Nov 26, 2020 03:26 pm