Decided on January 15,2003



P.RAMAKRISHNAM RAJU, J. - (1.) THE complainant, the owner of a boat bearing registration No. FKKD 410 got it insured originally on 9.7.1992 but renewed the policy from time -to -time. While the policy was in force, the boat sailed out for fishing operations along with the crew from Kakinada Yetimoga Canal Jetty at about 4.00 a.m. on 30.3.1993 towards Kakinada anchorage area. The boat conducted its operations between Uppada and Gunta area in 30 fathoms depth smoothly upto evening of 30.3.1993. The complainant noticed at about 4.00 p.m. on 30.3.1993 that a portion of the boat was getting down and it was moving by taking jolts. The luscars checked inside the boat and found that the inner compartments were fully choked with water. They resorted to bailing out water with hand pumps and buckets, but the water level was increasing gradually. The luscar who checked the stern tube bolts found they had fallen in the force compartment of stern tube plange. Immediately the complainant got into the boat and examined the stern tube plange. He noticed that the stern tube had broken adjacent to the stern tube plange. Hence the complainant instructed the luscars to heave up the net on board so as to save the boat and their lives. As water entered into the engine, the boat came to a halt. As the water level was increasing and reached the deck level, the crew jumped into the sea with life jackets, life bouys and jerry cans. The boat capsized. After swimming for some time, the complainant and the crew noticed one engine Nava which was going into the deep sea for fishing. Noticing the signals made by them, the said Nava came and rescued them and dismounted them near Dummulapetta Coast of Kakinada. The complainant intimated the mishap to all concerned telegraphically on 31.3.1993. M/s. Superintendence Co. of India Ltd., Kakinada were appointed by the opposite party. Though search operations were conducted to trace the boat under the supervision of Insurance Surveyor with the help of salvers and boat FKKD 474 and 374 from 1.4.1993 to 3.4.1993 the sunken boat could not be traced. Though the complainant submitted a claim application but without any response. The opposite party was only putting forth an excuse that the survey report was not yet received. Finally to the utter dismay of the complainant, the opposite party sent a letter dated 18.3.1997 repudiating the claim. Hence the complaint.
(2.) IN the written version filed by the opposite party, it is stated that on receipt of information through telegram on 30.3.1993 they appointed Superintendence Co. of India Ltd., Surveyors to investigate about the validity of the claim. It also appointed Ranjit Singh Seehara as a Surveyor to look into the genuineness of the claim. But the Surveyors after thorough investigation submitted their report on 20.9.1996 and 21.8.1995 respectively stating that the claim is fraudulent. The weather conditions were not conducive as the sky was cloudy accompanied by thunder storms and lightning till the night of 29.3.1993. Hence there was no scope for sailing into the sea in the early hours of 30.3.1993. Hence the story that the complainant had noticed entering of water in the inner compartment of the boat, falling of stern tube bolts, breakage of stern tube, sinking of the boat, jumping of the crew into the sea, rescued by a Nava are all concocted. If the boat is properly maintained the breakage of stern tube or dropping of screws would not arise causing increase of water. Even assuming that there was such possibility, the shore was only 10 to 12 miles from the alleged place of accident and as such water can be removed by hand pump and engine suction and reach the shore within a couple of hours as rightly observed by the Surveyors. The Surveyors have highlighted the inconsistent and contradictory statements made by the crew and came to the conclusion that the alleged loss was not genuine. Hence the opposite party on a consideration of the entire material came to the conclusion that the claim has to be repudiated.
(3.) THE complainant besides filing his affidavit filed the affidavit of one luscar by name Dokkadi Yesuratnam. He also filed Exs. A -1 to A -18. The opposite party filed the affidavit evidence of Asstt. Divisional Manager in the Divisional Office at Hyderabad who previously worked in the Divisional Office at Kakinada and marked Exs. B -1 to B -3. The point, therefore, that arises for consideration is whether there is any deficiency in service on the part of the opposite party. There is no dispute that the complainant is the owner of boat FKKD 410. It is also not disputed that the said boat was insured and the policy was issued for Rs. 6 lakhs and it was in force on 30.3.1993. But the opposite party does not admit the alleged sinking of the boat. Hence the question is whether the complainant is able to establish the mishap of the boat on 30.3.1993 while it was conducting fishing operations at Uppada and Gunta area near Kakinada.;

Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.