The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed a criminal case of cheating, forging and criminal conspiracy against the directors of the Indian unit of Toyota Motors after the company promised to compensate the owner of a Toyota Fortuner SUV who prosecuted them after his vehicle's airbags didn't deploy in an accident.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman undertook Toyota Motors would pay Rs 10 lakh to the owner, Gautam Sharma, and Rs 15 lakh to the family of his driver, who died during the accident in November 2012 in Uttar Pradesh. Sharma had filed an FIR under cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy against Atul C Kirloskar, Vikram S Kirloskar, Shekar Vishwanathan and Sadeep Singh, all directors of Toyota Kirloskar. He alleged the airbags had failed to function, leading to his driver's death.
Nariman contended the top court had settled the legal principle that directors cannot be prosecuted for vicarious liability. The bench agreed with the senior counsel, but, lauded Sharma's efforts to have fought for a "principle." It directed the company to pay the principal amount along with 9% interest, to be computed from the date of incident.
The bench even set aside the Allahabad high court verdict that refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the directors. It, however, declined Nariman's request to note in its order that the top court had already settled the legal principle. "If its already settled, we need not mention it in our order," the bench told him.
On Wednesday, the SC had frowned upon naming the company's directors in a cheating case, saying directors cannot be proceeded against vicariously. It had observed directors cannot be made accused without first making the company a party to the case. The bench had then suggested the complainant to settle for compensation for his agonies and for the driver's family.