Liability of registered owner of the vehicle

Liability after Sale of Vehicle:

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. Section 50(1) of the Act obliges the transferor to report the fact of transfer within 14 days of the transfer. In case the vehicle is sold outside State, the period within which the transfer ought to be reported gets extended. On the other hand, the transferee is also obliged to report the transfer to the registering authority within whose jurisdiction the transferee has the residence or place of business where the vehicle is normally kept. Section 50 thus prescribes timelines within which the transferor and the transferee are required to report the factum of transfer. As per Sub-Section 3 of said Section 50, if there be failure to report the fact of transfer, fine could be imposed and an action under Section 177 could thereafter be taken if there is failure to pay the amount of fine. These timelines and obligations are only to facilitate the reporting of the transfer. 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.

Even though in law there would be a transfer of ownership of the vehicle, that, by itself, would not absolve the party, in whose name the vehicle stands in RTO records, from liability to a third person … … … Merely because the vehicle was transferred does not mean that such registered owner stands absolved of his liability to a third person. So long as his name continues in RTO records, he remains liable to a third person.

[Source: Prakash Chand Daga vs. Saveta Sharma, decided by SC on Dec. 14, 2018]
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