DE KRETSER, •!.—Xmftimjah r. Government Ayrnf, Jnfftnt
1969Present: de Kretser, J.
A. NADARAJAH, Appellant, and GOVERNMENT AGENT,JAFFNA, Respondent
S. G. 621 GO—M. C. Point Pedro, 2399
Motor vehicles—Prosecution of registered owner for possessituj a vehicle without alicence—Presumption of possession by registered owner—RebuUulrility—MotorTraffic Act, s. 25 (2).
A person is not liable to bo convicted of the cliargo of possessing a motorvehicle without a licence in contravention of section 25 (2) of the Motor TraflicAct if ho proves that, although ho is for tho time being the registered owner,he neither used tho vehicle nor was in possession of it ut the time rclovant to thocharge.
Appeal from a judgment of the Magist fate's Court, Point Pedro.
R.L. N. de Zoysa, for the accused-appellant.
Kosala Vijayalilake, Crown Counsel, for the Attorney-General.
Cur. ado. vult.
October 4, 1969. de Kretser, J.—
The Magistrate of Point Pedro plr. K. Viknarajah) convicted theAccused of the charge of possessing a motor vehicle for which a licencewas not in force on 1.1.67. He fined him Rs. 10 in addition tosentencing him to pay the licence fee of Rs. 95 as a fine. The accusedhas appealed.
45GDE KRETSEK, J.—Nadarajak v. Government Agent, Jajfna
The Magistrate says, “ Under Section 25 (2) (of the Motor Traffic Act)the person for the time being who is the registered owner shall bepresumed to jiosscss that vehicle unless the contrary is proved. TheAccused has not proved anything to the contrary. I hold that theaccused is presumed to possess the vehicle as he is the registered owner.”
It appears to me that what the Magistrate meant to say is that as thepresumption arising under the section had not been rebutted, he heldthat the vehicle was in the possession of the accused, the registeredowner, who was therefore guilty of the offence.-
The reason why he came to the conclusion of that the accused hasnot proved anything to the' contrary” is because lie disbelieved
T.Ivanagaratnam, called for the Defence, who said that lie M as now theowner of the car in question having bought it on 1.8.65, and in fact hadcome to Court in it. Tie gave the history of how it came to be his asfollows : the Accused had sold the car to one Ratnam, Ratnam sold it toSiviah Sivanandan, and ho had bought it from Sivanandan. He did notsend the relevant transfer to the Registrar until 30.11.66, and in sendingit he put down the Accused as the jwevious omicr. The Registrar■wanted him, on 2S.10.67, to get the signature of the Accused, and hecontacted the Accused and the Accused said he ■would furnish thenecessary information to the Registrar but he had not done so. In theresult the car -was still not registered in his name. Ratnam "was alsocalled lor the Defence. He admitted that he had bought the ear fromthe Accused and ho sold it, lie says, within a month of his purchase. Hedid not say to whom, nor was he asked.
The Magistrate says he docs not accept the evidence of Ivanagaratnamor Ratnam. He does not say why. It appears to me that ICanaga-ratnam’s evidence that the car is in his possession should be accepted,more especially as no attempt was made to contradict that as far backas 30.11 .GO lie had claimed to be registered as the new ou-ner, and thatthe Registrar had refused to do so without, the signature of the Accusedon the transfer form. The Registrar ajiparcntly had good reason forwanting that done, but the issue at this trial is one of possession.
The evidence called proves affirmatively who is in possession of thisvehicle at the time relevant to this charge. That evidence rebuts thepresumption under Section 25 (2) that the registered owner is in posses-sion. The result is that the accused should not have been convicted forlie neither used the vehicle nor was in ]>osscssion of if.
The appeal that the conviction and sentence be set aside is alloM-ed.
A. NADARAJAH, Applicant, and GOVERNMENT AGENT, JAFFNA, Respondent