Prakash Chand Daga vs Saveta Sharma - Supreme Court Important Judgment
Prakash Chand Daga vs Saveta Sharma - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2018 -
On 14th December, 2018, in the case of Prakash Chand Daga v. Saveta Sharma & Ors. [Civil Appeal No.11369 of 2018], the issue for consideration was whether the registered owner of an offending vehicle stands absolved of his liability to a third person merely because the vehicle was sold.
In the case at hand, the appellant had sold his vehicle to first respondent, whereafter the vehicle got involved in an accident, in which the second respondent got injured. On a compensation claim being lodged by second respondent, the trial court fastened the liability on the driver and the first respondent. However, in appeal, the High Court found that despite the sale of the vehicle, no transfer of ownership, in accordance with Section 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 had been effected and as such the appellant continued to be the registered owner of the offending vehicle in terms of definition as incorporated in Section 2(30) of the Act, and accordingly fastened the liability on the appellant.
In appeal to this Court, the appellant submitted that the accident had occurred within thirty days of the transfer when the statutory period as prescribed under Section 50(1)(b) of the Act had not expired and as such the liability could not be fastened on the present appellant. The Supreme Court held that though “it is true that in terms of Section 50 of the Act, the transfer of a vehicle ought to be registered within 30 days of the sale” and Section 50 “prescribes timelines within which the transferor and the transferee are required to report the factum of transfer”, “these timelines and obligations are only to facilitate the reporting of the transfer. The Court held that “it is not as if that if an accident occurs within the period prescribed for reporting said transfer, the transferor is absolved of the liability.”
The Supreme Court observed that “Chapter XII of the Act deals with Claims Tribunals and as to how applications for compensation are to be preferred and dealt with” and “while considering such claims, the Claims Tribunal, in case of an accident is required to specify the amount which shall be paid by the insurer or owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident or whether such amount be paid by all or any of them, as the case may be.” It was held that “for the purposes of fixing such liability the concept of ownership has to be understood in terms of specific definition of ‘owner’ as defined in Section 2(30) of the Act” and thus “the challenge raised by the appellant must fail.”