Who is liable to compensate a road accident victim – the registered owner of the vehicle or the one who buys it but does not own it on paper?
The Supreme Court faced this question last week when a man requested it to absolve him of the financial liability the Punjab and Haryana High Court imposed on him in an accident case.
The petitioner Naveen Kumar was directed to pay Rs 5.23 lakh to the family of the person who had died after being hit by the car that he was driving.
Kumar argued that since the ownership of the car was not transferred to his name, even though he had purchased it from someone else and was driving it at the time of the accident, he was under no obligation to pay.
A Supreme Court bench agreed to examine the issue after Kumar’s counsel Rishi Malhotra read out the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act (MV) in support of his client’s case. The MV Act makes the “registered” and not the “real owner” accountable.