‘Owner' of motor vehicle refers to entity registered as owner: Court

Our Legal Correspondent Chennai | Updated on February 14, 2011 Published on February 14, 2011

The term “owner” of a motor vehicle as defined under Section 2(30) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1955, even in the case of hire-purchase arrangement, is the person in possession of the same under the HP agreement, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.

While the Customs Act, 1962 [Sec 115(2)] provided for a remedy by way of provisional release of a vehicle seized u/s 110(A) to the owner on fulfilling the conditions imposed by the adjudicating authority, the motor vehicle authorities, only after due notice to the owner, could transfer the vehicle to the hire-purchase holder, the Bench noted.

Dismissing a writ petition by a finance company (Sundaram Finance Ltd) seeking for a direction to the Commissioner of Customs (R-1),Tuticorin 628 004, to release the vehicle (2007 model Leyland trailer), Mr Justice K. Chandru observed that the interpretation of Sec 2 of the Act itself stated that the vehicle, which was the subject-matter of a HP agreement, the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement shall be the owner (judgment of the Supreme Court in Godavari Finance Co vs Degsala Satyanarayanamma (reported in (2008) 5 SCC 107).


The Judge cited another judgment of the Supreme Court in Ganga Hire Purchase P Ltd vs State of Punjab reported in 2000 (21) ELT 9 (SC) and said that the expression “owner” must be held to mean the “registered owner” of the vehicle in whose name the vehicle stood registered under the Motor Vehicles Act. Since the Department (Customs) was yet to pass a final order on the confiscation, they were unable to concede the request of the petitioner (Sundaram Finance).

In the light of the above, the relief claimed by the petitioner could not be countenanced by this Court, the Judge held. The petition would stand dismissed.

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Published on February 14, 2011
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