C. Honniah, J.
1. The facts that have given rise to this petition are these:
Respondent 1 filed a complaint against his driver by name Chandran alleging that he had committed theft of his car bearing No. KLC 4055 alone with R. C. and Insurance certificate. The Sub-Inspector of Police, Chickpet Police Station, registered a case in Crime No. 10/73 against Chandran. He seized the car along with R. C. at Calicut from the possession of the petitioner and produced them before the Judicial Magistrate, First Class (Ist Court), Bangalore City. The petitioner arid respondent No. 1 both filed applications before the Magistrate praying that the car may be given to their respective custody. The learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that respondent No. 1 had a better claim for custody of the vehicle and accordingly he passed an order that the car be returned to respondent No. 1 during the pendency of investigation subject, of course, to certain conditions. It is this order that if challenged by the petitioner.
2. The car in question and the R. C. relating to it at the time of seizure were in the possession of the petitioner. The R. C. discloses that the owner of the car is the petitioner. At the time the car was produced before the Magistrate, the police produced certain documents, which showed that the original owner was one Mohammed Sali and that he had made an application to the office of the R.T.O. Bangalore to transfer the vehicle in the name of respondent No. 1 and similarly respondent No. 1 had made an application stating that he had purchased the said car. According to the first respondent, the vehicle was registered in his name and to that effect an endorsement had been made in the R. C, This contention of respondent No. 1 requires further investigation in view of the fact that Mohammed Sali has filed an affidavit in this Court stating that he does not at all know respondent No. 1 and that he had not made any application for such a transfer. A perusal of the R. C. in this case goes to show that the vehicle is registered in the name of the petitioner in the office of the R.T.O., Cannanore.
3. However, the learned Magistrate has lost sight of the fact that ordinarily when any property such as the motor vehicle is attached or seized by the police one has to consider the effect of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act for finding out the true claimant before passing orders relating to such property during the pendency of the proceedings under Section 516-A of the Criminal Procedure Code. Prom the provisions relating to the registration of motor vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act, it is clear that the registration certificate is an essential necessity before any such motor vehicle can be made use of and that any person in whose favour this certificate of registration is issued, obviously would be the owner thereof. In case of any transfer of ownership in respect of that motor 'vehicle, the procedure is contemplated under Section 31 of the Motor Vehicles Act and till, any Such transfer of ownership is entered in the certificate of registration, one has to take it that the person in whose favour such a certificate of registration is issued by the Motor Transport Authorities is the owner and such a person is entitled to remain in possession of the vehicle. Non-compliance of certain provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act sometimes makes the owner responsible. In those circumstances, it would be ordinarily prudent and in consonance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act to allow such a motor vehicle to remain in possession of such a person in whose name the certificate of registration stands. As it stands, the petitioner is entitled to the custody of the car.
4. The learned Magistrate was in error in giving a finding with respect to the entry made in the certificate of registration in favour of the petitioner as not a genuine one, What is required under Section 516-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure is that when the property regarding which an offence appears to have been committed, or which appears to have been used for the commission of an offence is produced before any criminal court during any inquiry or trial, the court has got to make such order as it thinks fit for the proper custody of such property pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial. The power to order for custody of the property given to a Magistrate under Section 516-A, Cr. P. C. should not be used to determine the ownership of property. It is a matter strictly within the sphere of the Civil Court. On the facts of this case, the learned Magistrate was clearly wrong in directing the vehicle in question to be handed over to the custody of respondent No. 1.
5. In the result, I allow this revision petition set aside the order in question and direct the car bearing Registration No. KLC 4055 to be given to the custody of the petitioner (T. C. Gopalan Nair) conditionally on his executing a bond for a sum of Rs. 20,000/- with one local surety and with the further directing that whenever the vehicle is required by the Court, the petitioner should produce the same.