1. Late Shamsudeen P.A., the father of the petitioner, was the permit holder of Stage Carriage bearing registration number KL-56/J-4345 plying through the route Ollur-Mannannur. The said permit is valid till 4.12.2020. While so, the permit holder breathed his last on 3.12.2019 as is evident from Exhibit P1 death certificate leaving behind his wife and three children. The petitioner claims that she is in possession of the vehicle. To bolster her assertions, the petitioner has placed on record, the permit and the RC Book as Exhibits P2 and P3. Exhibit P4 relationship issued by the Village Officer after due inquiry reveals that the deceased Shamsudeen has left behind his wife and three children. After the death of the permit holder, intimation was given to the RTA by the petitioner asserting that she is the person succeeding to the possession of the vehicle covered by the permit as contemplated under Section 82 (2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (“The Act” for short). From Exhibit P6, it is apparent that the mother, as well as the siblings of the petitioner, has filed a declaration before the respondent that they have no objection in transferring the ownership of the vehicle to the name of the petitioner and that they have no claim over the same. She contends that though all documents were submitted by the petitioner as aforesaid, the respondent is insisting on the production of Legal heirship certificate, as a pre-condition for acceptance of those applications. It is in the above backdrop that the petitioner is before this Court seeking for the issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the respondent Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Thrissur to accept to endorse the fact of transfer of permit on the route Ollur-Mannannur and transfer of vehicle bearing registration No KL-56/ J-4345 from the name of the late permit holder to the name of the petitioner herein without insisting for Legal heirship certificate and by accepting the relationship certificate and declaration by other legal heirs.
2. Sri.I Dinesh Menon, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner relied on the report in Bhagyalekshmy P. v. Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Palakkad [2010 (2) KLT 431], and it was argued that since Rule 56 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules does not stipulate production of any particular document to prove the claim of the applicant, it is sufficient that she produces an acceptable document to prove her entitlement for such transfer. He contends that the respondent was not justified in insisting for the production of a legal heirship certificate particularly when the provisions of the Act and Rules do not insist on the same. The learned counsel has also relied on a decision of a learned Single Judge in the judgment dated 2.8.2019 in W.P.(C). No. 19793 of 2019 wherein identical issue was considered and the ratio laid down in Bhagyalekshmi (supra) was followed.
3. Heard the learned Government Pleader and I have considered the submissions.
4. Having considered the submissions, I find considerable merit in the submission advanced by the learned counsel. In Bhagyalekshmi (supra), this Court after a detailed evaluation of the statutory provisions including Rule 56 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules held that what was contemplated is that the person seeking transfer of permit of a vehicle consequent upon the death of the owner and permit holder would have to satisfy the authority by producing necessary documents that he has 'succeeded' to the possession of the vehicle. The possession contemplated is legal possession and therefore, a person can be said to have succeeded to the possession of the vehicle only if he shows that he has done so through one of the modes recognized by law. Such succession can be by survivorship, testamentary disposition, transfer or by the operation of law. Therefore, it is implicit in the rule itself that the person seeking such transfer would have to satisfy the authority that he had legally succeeded to the possession of the vehicle by producing necessary documents to support his claim. It was further held that since the Rule does not stipulate the production of any particular document to prove the claim of the applicant, it is sufficient that he produces an acceptable document to prove his entitlement for such transfer. The document may be the Legal Heirship Certificate, a Relationship Certificate issued by the Village Officer or a Succession Certificate, a Will or a Partnership deed, or some other document that would show that he had succeeded to the possession of the vehicle. If there are more legal heirs to the deceased than one, or more persons who are equally entitled to such transfer, the consent of the others would also be necessary. Since the procedure for transferring the ownership of a vehicle involves the transfer of movable property of substantial value, the power has to be exercised by the authority with the proper application of mind, after satisfying itself of the authenticity of the documents produced. While coming to the said finding, this Court had also relied on an unreported decision of this Court dated 26.11.1993 in O.P.No.10465 of 1993.
5. The above decisions have stood the test of time and I respectfully concur with the principles laid down.
6. In the light of the above, this writ petition is disposed of directing the respondent to accept Exts.P1 to P6 submitted by the petitioner and consider the application for transfer
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of permit of vehicle being Reg.No KL- 65/ J-4345 on the Ollur-Mannannur route, on the petitioner remitting the requisite fee. The respondent shall pass appropriate orders on the application seeking transfer, in consonance with law, taking note of the law laid down by this Court in the Bhagyalakshmi (supra), with notice to the petitioner, and also to other legal heirs of the deceased registered owner/permit holder. Necessary orders in this regard shall be passed, as expeditiously as possible, at any rate, within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this judgment.