The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is apparently overburdened with cases, has informed the high court that it would not be able to probe into why General Motors (GM) India had recalled Chevrolet Tavera models, which had allegedly been fitted with substandard engines.
The affidavit was filed by Bhalchandra Chonkar, CBI deputy superintendent of police, before the HC, in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar seeking probe by the agency into alleged 'corporate fraud' by GM (India).
CBI said it was already overburdened and that the case had no interstate ramifications that necessitated CBI investigation as GM's two manufacturing units were situated in Gujarat and Maharashtra. "The alleged offences have been committed only in these two states and as such the case has no interstate ramifications necessitating CBI investigation," said the affidavit.
The affidavit also states that the PIL was about an alleged fraud involving two private parties (buyer and seller) that caused no loss to the central government necessitating a CBI probe.
"Further, presuming that the averment is true, the victim (buyer) of the so called sub-standard engine has legal remedy under the Consume Protection Act," adds the affidavit. The consumer can initiate both criminal and civil action seeking compensation.
"The alleged offence would not attract 'cheating' clause as attributed by the petitioner, but can be treated only as an offence civil in nature," it adds.
The agency also said the petitioner, who is not directly affected by the recall of Tavera, had other options. He could approach state police agencies, especially the crime branch and the economic offences wing, which have sufficient manpower and infrastructure to inquire into such cases.
In July 2013, GM recalled 1.14 lakh units of its multi-purpose vehicle to address emission and specification issues. Tirodkar's PIL said a government panel's report had indicted the company for 'corporate fraud' to earn revenue by fitting substandard engines in Chevrolet Tavera BS3 (2.5L variant) and BS4 (2.0L variant). However, the panel was not vested with express jurisdiction to register a case, and hence no FIR had been registered.
The PIL also held it would be tedious for every state to register cases of cheating in every district or tehsil against the company. It's likely to come up for further hearing on June 18.