HP HC | Mere transfer of vehicle would not absolve the registered owner of his liability to third person; S. 50 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 needs to be satisfied

Himachal Pradesh High Court:  Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. held that the order of the Tribunal was devoid of any fault on the ground that mere transfer does not mean that such registered owner stands absolved of his liability to a third person unless and untill changes are not made in RTO records.

Brief facts of the case are that the claimant /respondent 1 was travelling in bus which was being driven in a rash and negligent manner by respondent 2  resulting in multiple injuries and fracture on the leg of the claimant. The accident was reported to the Police at Police Station, Kullu on the basis of which FIR was registered under Sections 279, 337 and 338 IPC. On these allegations, the claimant sought compensation to the tune of Rs 10, 00,000. 

Counsel for the appellant G.L. Palsra took specific stand that the vehicle was sold by him to respondent 4 Dhewa Ram and the possession of the vehicle was also given by him to respondent 4. 

Respondent 2 driver of the vehicle admitted that the claimant was travelling in the bus and took defence that he had taken a marriage party of his near relative to village Doghri without any consideration and when the bus reached near Shallang Govt. School, the claimant hurriedly got down in order to answer the call of nature. The driver was slowing down but the claimant opened the door without waiting for the bus to stop and fell down due to his own negligence and sustained injuries. 

Counsel Praneet Gupta for Respondent 3-Insurance Company took preliminary objections that the driver of the vehicle was not having valid and effective driving licence to drive the vehicle and the vehicle was being plied in contravention to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act as well as contract of the insurance policy. It was further averred that the vehicle at the relevant time was being plied without route permit, fitness certificate and token tax, etc. It was also averred that the petition had been filed in connivance with respondents 1, 2 and 4. 

Advocate Naveen K. Bhardwaj for Respondent 4, Dhewa Ram took the plea that he had sold the vehicle to respondent 2 and had no concern with the said vehicle. 

On the evidence presented before the Tribunal earlier, it awarded compensation of Rs 5, 06,530 along with interest at the rate of 7% per annum from the date of petition i.e. 8-5-2008 till realization in favor of the claimant on account of the injuries sustained by him in the accident. The insurance company was directed to deposit the compensation in the first instance and then to recover the same from respondents 1 and 2. Aggrieved by the award so passed by the learned Tribunal, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The Court having heard both the parties relied on a Supreme Court Judgment Prakash Chand Daga v. Saveta Sharma, (2019) 2 SCC 747 observed that the appellant continues to be reflected as owner of the vehicle in the records maintained by the Registering and Licensing Authority and being the registered owner, the appellant is bound to satisfy the award as no transfer of ownership was carried out in accordance with Section 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. [Chaman Lal v. Murat Ram, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 320, decided on 29-02-2020]

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