The Bombay High Court has held that if a person who has sold his/her car but continues to be the registered owner in the records of the concerned Regional transport Office, they will be liable to pay compensation to the concerned party in case of an accident.
Justice RD Dhanuka was hearing an appeal filed by one Hufriz Sonawala, who challenged the judgement of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), Mumbai holding him liable to pay the entire compensation amount of Rs.1,34,000 with 7.4% interest.
According to the appellant he sold the said vehicle to one Kalpesh Panchal and handed over possession along with a delivery note and requisite documents to enable Panchal to transfer the said vehicle in his name in the records of RTO.
On March 8, 2008, Panchal hit a person named Bharat Dave and knocked him down. Panchal was admitted to the hospital and was treated there for two weeks. Thereafter, Dave filed an application before the MACT, Mumbai against Panchal and the appellant under section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act,1988 with application under section 140 of the said Act for `No Fault Liability'. On June 11, 2009, MACT, Mumbai passed the judgment holding appellant liable to pay compensation to the Dave.
Appellant's counsel Ravi Talreja submitted that even though delivery note along with all requisite documents was handed over by the appellant, the purchaser did not transfer the said vehicle in his name. Therefore, the appellant cannot be made liable to pay compensation amount on the ground that the vehicle stood in his name on the date of accident, Talreja said.
On the other hand, Advocate Kritika Pokale instructed by AM Gokhale appeared on behalf of respondent no.1 Bharat Dave. She submitted that the said vehicle was transferred in the name of Panchal on December 29, 2008 and thus it is clear that on the date of accident the vehicle continued to be in the name of the appellant.
The appellant was under an obligation to transfer the said vehicle under section 50 of the said Act within the time prescribed, Pokale argued. She placed reliance on the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Naveen Kumar vs. Vijay Kumar and others delivered on February 6, 2018.
In the said judgement, various earlier judgments of the Supreme Court have been referred and after examining Section 2 (30) and Section 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act, Supreme Court has held that the person in whose name the vehicle stood registered on the date of accident which vehicle was not insured would continue to be the owner of the vehicle within the meaning of section 2 (30) and would be responsible to make payment of compensation.
Court referred to the judgement of Supreme Court in Naveen Kumar (supra) and noted that reporting the said transfer of vehicle within 14 days was mandatory which the appellant failed to do-
"In my view, the principles laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court would clearly apply to the facts of the present case. I am respectfully bound by the said Judgments. The appellant not having reported the transfer within the time prescribed by section 50 of the M.V.Act continued to be the owner of the said vehicle on the date of accident and was thus liable to pay compensation in view of the accident having been committed during the period of ownership of the appellant."
Thus, refusing to interfere with MACT's judgement, Justice Dhanuka dismissed the appeal-
"In my view, the impugned Judgment and Order passed by the Tribunal does not warrant any interference as the same is in conformity with the M.V.Act and having followed the principles of law, I do not find any infirmity with the said Judgment."