Whether producing a fresh sale deed for a sale did in two years ago in 2020 after the vehicle was seized with drug worth Rs 20 crore absolves a family under NDPS Act is yet to be seen.
TFM Follow-up Report
Following the TFM report that “Vehicle from which drug worth Rs 20 crore seized in Guwahati belongs to Lhukhosei Zou’s daughter”, one Jamminlal Haokip has claimed that he purchased and took possession of the vehicle (Tata Nexon) bearing registration No. MN01-AK-7218 involved in commission of offence under NDPS Act from “Kimngaiching Zou, daughter of Lhukhosei Zou on October 15, 2020”.
However, the question remains whether or not his claim is sustainable in the eye of law. In a clarification note, Jamminlal said that a sale deed was also executed between Kimngaiching Zou and him. However, owing to “pre-occupations and inadvertent mistake on my part, I had not registered the vehicle in my name”, he said.
In its judgment in the T.V. Jose (Dr.) v. Chacko P.M. [(2001)8SCC 748], the Supreme Court of India held that merely because the vehicle was transferred, does not mean that the registered owner/the appellant stood absolved of his liability to a third person and that so long as his name continues in the records of RTO, he remains liable to a third person.
Though the Supreme Court judgement was in connection with accident claim under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, not related to a case under NDPS Act, the registered owner has to prove that the vehicle was used without his/her knowledge or connivance or of his agent or the person in charge of the conveyance and that each of them had taken reasonable precaution against such use if s/he seeks interim release of the vehicle as per the section 60(3) of the NDPS Act.
Section 60(3) of the NDPS Act speaks of the liability of the vehicle to be confiscated where the owner fails to prove that it was used without his knowledge or connivance or the knowledge and connivance of his agent in charge of the vehicle.
Through his clarification note, Jamminlal Haokip also tendered his apology to Kimngaiching Zou and Lhukhosei Zou for all the misfortunes caused to them, by his negligence for timely registration of the Vehicle in his name. His apology came too late to clear the name of Lhukhosei Zou and his daughter from legal tangles, said legal experts.
As per law, any road traffic violations made by a buyer will also be subjected to the registered owner in case the ownership has not been transferred. S/he will be unnecessarily dragged into legalities if s/he has not transferred vehicle ownership.
Whether producing a fresh sale deed for a sale did in two years ago in 2020 after the vehicle was seized with drug worth Rs 20 crore absolves a family with similar antecedent case under NDPS Act is yet to be seen.
However, on his part, Jamminlal Haokip, who said the vehicle was sold off again to Ms Ngaineithem d/o Hemkholun of Molvailup Village, Kamjong District in 20 February 2022, gave clean chit to Lhukhosei Zou and claimed that Lhukhosei Zou has “no connection whatsoever with the recent seizure”. He said he was “willing and ready to cooperate with the Investigating Agency in all matters related to the vehicle”.
An observer who has followed the unfolding of the event told that Jamminlal Haokip is the first buyer from the original owner as per his own claim. “But how could he sell the same vehicle to another person (third person) when the same vehicle was yet to be registered under Jamminlal Haokip himself. Legally, he is yet to own the vehicle till the time of registration and if he does not own it, how come he is selling the same vehicle to Ms Ngaineithem d/o Hemkholun of Molvailup Village, Kamjong District in 20 February 2022”, he added.
Moreover, the seized vehicle registered under Kimngaiching Zou’s name has been insured with National Insurance Co. Ltd., till May 1, 2023.
Meanwhile, Kimngaiching Zou has also issued a clarification that she already sold out the vehicle to Jamminlal Haokip, S/o Otkholun Haokip of Cannan veng, Tuinom Part -III Moreh on 15th Oct 2020. A Sale deed was also executed between them. Since then she was no longer the owner of the seized vehicle.
“I’m already a married woman, married to Mr T. Lalneu s/o T. Ginzathang, a retired Inspector of Police and have stayed apart from my father Lhukhosei Zou’s family. Neither me nor my father Lhukhosei Zou is related to those persons arrested with drugs in Assam,” said Kimngaiching Zou.