Decided on September 14,2006

Vineet Aggarwal Respondents


- (1.)THIS appeal has been filed against order dated 24.3.2006 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum -II, U.T., Chandigarh in complaint case No. 740 of 2004. The contextual facts in brief are as under :
The complainant/respondent Sh. Vineet Aggarwal had got his Santro 1999 Model Car bearing Registration No. HR -03 -B -9853, comprehensively insured against premium of Rs. 6,235 for the period 5.4.2002 to 4.4.2003 (Annexure C -1). The above car unfortunately met with an accident in August, 2002 and the accident was duly intimated to the Insurance Company. It has been averred that the appellant appointed Sh. Gopal Krishan for the spot survey after which the car was sent to Heritage Autos Pvt. Ltd. (a Hyundai Authorized Service Centre) for repairs where the surveyor appointed by the respondent took the photographs of the car and made the estimate of repairs and submitted his report to the OP. It is alleged that the contents of both the survey reports were not disclosed by the appellant -Insurance Company to the respondent/complainant. The complainant made payment of Rs. 49,525.32 to M/s. Heritage Autos Private Limited vide cash memo dated 3.9.2002 (Annexure C -2). The claim for reimbursement of the amount spent on repairs of the car on 9.9.2002 was filed, in reply to which the appellant Insurance Company vide letter dated 22.10.2002 called upon the complainant to submit a copy of the Registration Certificate in which the Registration Authority had authorized to him to use the LPG fuel in the car. It is further stated by the complainant that at the time of issuance of insurance policy, the car in question was fitted with LPG kit and the said fact was duly disclosed to the Insurance Company and the appellant - Insurance Company accepted the premium and even endorsed on the cover note that 'the car is run on LPG also'. The appellant did not raise any objection against the use of LPG or the requirement of its approval by the Registration Authority. It is further averred by the complainant that though at the time of getting the insurance policy for the car, the LPG kit was fitted but the gas kit was not working properly and the same was disconnected and the car was being run on petrol only. At the time of accident, the car was being run on petrol (and not on LPG) and thus objection raised by the Insurance Company is only for the sake of rejection and to deny the claim which otherwise is payable, as per the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. This fact was brought to the notice of the Insurance Company vide letter dated 13.11.2002 (Annexure C -4) but the Insurance Company again raised same objections vide letter dated 23.12.2002 calling upon the complainant to submit a copy of the Registration Certificate in which the Registration Authority had authorised the complainant to use LPG fuel. At the time of issuance of insurance cover note and accepting the premium no such objection was raised, on the contrary, specific endorsement was made on the cover note that the car is running on LPG also. The complainant has alleged that those arbitrary and irrational objections were raised by the appellant Insurance Company despite the fact that the LPG connection was removed prior to the accident and at the time of accident, the car was running on petrol only. It is further stated that he approached the Insurance Ombudsman by filing claim dated 26.12.2002 (Annexure C -6) and the Ombudsman wrote a letter dated 26.12.2002 to the Insurance Company to settle the claim as the car in question was not running on LPG at the time of accident but the Insurance Company in a most arbitrary and mechanical manner without taking into consideration the real facts of the case, repudiated the claim on the ground that the same is not maintainable as the car was running in contravention of the RC provisions. The complainant has alleged that the repudiation of the claim by the respondent shows the arbitrary manner in which the appellant company had dealt with the matter and the same amounts to deficiency in service. The Insurance Ombudsman, Chandigarh also dismissed the complaint vide order dated 26.3.2003 on the same ground that there is no endorsement on the registration certificate regarding approval of use of LPG as fuel in the car, without going into the facts that the Insurance Company accepted the cover note with the knowledge that the car is running on LPG also. The complainant made representation dated 14.8.2003 which despite assurances given by the Chairman and M.D. of the appellant/respondent had not been decided and he tried to contact the Insurance Company telephonically on 11.11.2003 and 12.11.2003 and thereafter the Insurance Company called the complainant for a meeting on 18.11.2003 vide their letter dated 12.11.2003. In the meeting with Sh. R.C. Gupta, Divisional Manager of the OP, the complainant was assured that the matter once again will be discussed and revised recommendation will be forwarded to the Regional Office but the matter remained unsettled and thereafter the complainant again wrote on 20.3.2004 to the Chairman and Managing Director of the Insurance Company but still the Insurance Company had failed to do the needful, consequent to which it is liable for deficiency in service. The complainant has prayed that the respondent be directed to make the payment of Rs. 49,525.32 with interest at the rate of 18% p.a. from the date of claim till realization and to award Rs. 20,000 as compensation for physical and mental harassment and Rs. 10,000 as litigation expenses.

(2.)IN the written statement on behalf of the OP - National Insurance Company Limited, the preliminary objections taken is that OP having considered all the facts on record, took a bona fide decision which cannot be challenged in the Consumer Forum as the matter was referred to Insurance Ombudsman who upheld the decision of the OP, hence, the complaint is not maintainable before the Forum. The complainant since failed to submit the requisite permission of transport authorities with proper endorsement on the Registration Certificate for use of LPG kit, consequent to which the claim was repudiated and the complainant was informed accordingly. Further it is contended that the complaint is not maintainable in view of the fact that complicated questions of law and facts are involved which cannot be decided under the summary procedure of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
(3.)IN reply on merits, the para No. 1 is admitted to the extent of taking the policy in question for the period from 5.4.2002 to 4.4.2003. It is contended that since the parties are bound by the terms and conditions as contained in the policy document brought on record (Annexure R -1). The complainant being guilty of violation of the same, cannot allege any deficiency on the part of OP. The complainant intentionally has not produced the original insurance policy. The factum of the vehicle in question having met with an accident and the report of spot surveyor Sh. Gopal Krishan and Sh. R.S. Arora , Surveyor for the assessment of the loss was submitted and it was pointed out that the vehicle was fitted with LPG equipment. The complainant was asked to submit a copy of the registration certificate on which endorsement regarding use of LPG fuel was permitted. The OP was informed vide letter dated 13.11.2002 from the complainant which was considered and on that ground it was decided that the claim could not paid due to clear violation of terms and conditions of policy and also of the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act. It is further contended that the complainant has misrepresented and tried to conceal the material facts as the car was being run by the LPG at the time of accident. The allegations of deficiency have been denied as the vehicle in question was having LPG equipment at the time of accident. Hence, complainant is not entitled to Rs. 49,525.32 as claimed. It is stated that the claim is not payable and prayer has been made to dismiss the complaint with costs.
In evidence, the complainant Sh.Vineet Aggarwal has filed his affidavit along with Annexures C -1 to C -13. Ms. Napur K. Nadda, Divisional Manager of National Insurance Company Limited has filed her affidavit. Sh. Gopal Krishan, Licensed Surveyor has filed his affidavit whereas Sh. R.S. Arora, Licensed Surveyor has filed his affidavit along with Annexures R -1 to R -4.

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