SFIO in HC against CIC order to disclose details of criminal cases against Daewoo Motors

The Delhi High Court has sought response of now defunct Daewoo Motor's former auditor on a plea by fraud investigation office SFIO to set aside a Central Information Commission (CIC) order directing it to make public details of criminal proceedings against the company which is facing trial in several cases.

Justice V K Rao issued notice to the auditor, Vipin Malik, and sought his response on the petition by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which functions under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). The court listed the matter for further hearing on December 3.

SFIO and MCA, represented by advocates Rahul Sharma and C K Bhatt, have sought quashing of the CIC's November 8, 2018 order which came on Malik's application seeking information about proceedings against the company in 2000-2001, when he was the statutory auditor of Daewoo Motors.

SFIO and the ministry have contended in their plea that the details sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 pertains to years when the offences alleged against the company were committed and for which the trial was going on.

The petition said the CIC did not appreciate the matter was sub-judice before a trial court here and the information pertained to evidence in several cases against the company.

It contended that the CIC "failed to appreciate and consider that the information sought by the respondent (Malik) is explicitly exempt from the purview of the RTI. Without prejudice, the CIC completely overlooked the fact that the information sought by the respondent in his RTI dated March 31, 2017 was related to criminal proceedings vis-a-vis various matters against Daewoo Motors India Limited, which are still pending adjudication".

According to the petition, the Ministry of Finance on October 14, 2003 had ordered an investigation into the affairs of Daewoo Motors India Ltd. by the SFIO which had given a detailed investigation report on February 16, 2014 stating that charges for various offences under the Companies Act, 1956 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 were made out.

Subsequently, the MCA by a letter dated July 21, 2015 had directed SFIO to file complaint and initiate prosecution against the offenders, the petition said.