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Selling your secondhand two-wheeler or car, but not fulfilling the legal norms of transfer to the new owner could make you liable to pay for any accidents caused by the vehicle, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

In its judgment early this week, the court made the original owner of the vehicle Mukesh Kumar equally liable to pay for damage that occurred due to an accident involving its new buyer.

Kumar’s fault, said the court, was he did not legally transfer the documents of ownership of the vehicle in the name of the buyer, O.M. Prakash.

“The appellant (Mukesh Kumar) who was the registered owner of the offending vehicle must be deemed to continue as the owner of the vehicle,” Justice Reva Khetrapal said in her judgement.

“Accordingly, the owner and the third party are equally liable for the compensation payable to the claimants.”

The court was hearing the appeal filed by Kumar against the order passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) court here May 27, 2009.

The road accident involving the concerned vehicle had occurred on Feb 12, 2005, due to rash and negligent driving. The widow of the man who died in the accident had approached MACT seeking compensation of Rs.20 lakh.

MACT agreed with her argument for compensation to be used to fend for her two children, as the accident had taken away the soul bread earner of the family.

However, the case took an interesting turn when the accused driver revealed that he was not the owner of the vehicle, and that it belonged to Prakash from whom he had borrowed it.

Meanwhile, Prakash also disputed in court that he was not the original owner of the vehicle, as it was still legally owned by Kumar.

MACT in its judgment ordered: “The insurance company shall pay the awarded amount to the family in the first instance and thereafter recover the same from the Kumar and Prakash.”

This particular judgment was disputed by Kumar, who appealed against it in the high court, only to be slapped with the new judgment making him equally liable.

Dismissing Kumar’s appeal, Justice Khetrapal said: “Appellant failed in his duty of ensuring that the ownership of the vehicle was transferred to Prakash in the records of the registering authority and for this lapse on his part, he too must be held liable to pay the compensation amount.”

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