Two days after undertaking one of the biggest ever vehicle recalls in India, a matter that looks murkier than earlier thought, heads may start to roll at the domestic operations of General Motors (GM).
The company has conducted an internal enquiry to look into the complicity of its employees against the firm's safety and regulatory procedures and strict action may be taken on those found guilty. The staffers are likely to be from the engineering, research and development, quality and the compliance departments of the firm.
GM India had recalled 114,000 units of its multi-utility vehicle Tavera for faulty emission on Wednesday. It is also facing heat from the government after it was revealed that its employees may have fudged engine specifications to pass emission tests. Production of the Tavera and two other diesel models has been stopped since last month.
The government has set up a panel headed by Nitin Gokarn, CEO, National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project, to probe the matter. Around two dozen executives from GM's global operations have reportedly been already sacked on the issue.
Government sources said GM may also be in line for a heavy penalty.
"We cannot comment on the issue till the time the investigations are not over," said a senior heavy industries ministry official. "If it is proved that officials in the company collaborated in fudging the specifications of the engines then we may penalise the firm for this. Mere recall is not the solution."
Though there is no formal recall policy code in India, industry lobby Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) had initiated a voluntary recall code last July.
Since then over 200,000 cars have been recalled in India, the most in a single year but GM's recall has reopened the case for a formal code.
"It is too early to tell as many people may be at fault here," the official added. "But definitely there is a need for more stringent checks and balances."