Recently, the Allahabad High Court has held that a registered owner of a second-hand vehicle cannot be held liable if the previous owner of the vehicle was involved in an accident.
Brief facts of the case:
According to the petitioner, he had purchased a second-hand car (Hyundai I10 on 18.04.2017 from one Mrs Archana Mohan. When the petitioner was driving his car on 15.09.2018, his vehicle was stopped by SHO, Civil Lines, Sub Inspector Deena Nath and four constables.
Even though the petitioner produced all the documents of the car, Sub Inspector Deena Nath requested a bribe in order to let go of the vehicle,
When the petitioner refused to pay the bribe, his vehicle was seized on the ground that it was involved in an accident.
An application seeking the release of the car was made to CJM, Allahabad. The CJM directed the petitioner to furnish in cash a sum of Rs. 5 lacs or bank security worth the said amount, to be appropriated towards payment of compensation that may be awarded in the claim by the deceased’s heirs, relating to the accident. It was held that the release application would only be considered if the petitioner deposited the aforesaid amount.
The petitioner filed a review petition before the Sessions Judge, Allahabad, which was dismissed.
Both the impugned orders were challenged before the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court.
The car in question was not involved in the accident.
Learned Counsel for the petitioner submitted according to the FIR filed in the accident case, there was no involvement of car and the offending vehicle was noted to be a Pulsar motorcycle.
This shows that the SI Deena Nath falsely implicated the petitioner.
It was further argued that the petitioner was not the owner of the car at the time of the accident; therefore, he cannot be considered liable. At best, he can be considered a witness who holds custody of material evidence.
On the other hand, learned AGA argued that according to Rule 203-B (3) of the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1998, the Court does not have jurisdiction to release a vehicle that is not covered by an insurance policy against 3rd party risks unless the owner/registered owner of the vehicle furnishes sufficient security.
In order to adjudicate the case, the Court relied on Supreme Court’s Judgement in Prakash Chand Daga vs Savita Sharma where it was held that the liability to satisfy an award made by a claims tribunal is of the registered owner who owned the vehicle when the accident took place.
Therefore, provisions of Rule 203-B (3) will not apply in cases where a vehicle is seized from a registered owner who is a transferee and was not connected to the offending vehicle at the time of the accident.
The Court held that the order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Allahabad and the learned Additional Sessions Judge was bad in law and was set aside.
CJM, Allahabad was directed to decide the petitioner’s release application within a period of three weeks.
Title: Meva Lal vs State of UP & Ors
Case No.: MATTERS UNDER ARTICLE 227 No. – 4533 of 2019
Date of Order: 10.11.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice JJ Munir
Counsel for Petitioner:- Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, Jai Prakash Rao
Counsel for Respondent:- G.A.