Decided on June 18,2003



P.RAMAKRISHNAM RAJU,PRESIDENT - (1.) THE complainant is a owner of fishing boat Dolphin type bearing registration number KKD 1754. It was also registered with the Port Authorities under Registration No. FKKD 749. The complainant also insured her boat with the opposite party under policy No. 432502/217/131/MH/079/96 dated 4.12.1995.
(2.) WHILE so that boat sailed out on a fishing voyage from Kakinada Port in the early hours on 29.2.1996 towards Bhyravapalem fishing grounds. On completion of 3 hauls of fishing it was noticed that the boat was getting jolts and the crew members got into the engine room and found that the inner compartments of the boat were filled with water. They also noticed that the water was gushing from the bottom of the hull. The driver also confirmed that the stern tube adjacent to stern tube plange broke away. The driver, therefore, started navigating the boat towards shore to save the boat and lives. After 30 minutes of the journey towards the shore the water level has increased and the engine stopped. The crew placed a marking buoy in that area where the boat started sinking and they jumped into the sea to save their lives with life -buoys and jerry cans. The boat capsized at about 8.00 to 9.00 p.m. on 29.2.1996. While they were swimming one of the boats KKD 1460 which was coming in that route rescued them and carried them upto Bhyravapalem canal during that night.
(3.) ON receiving the message the complainants son Ganga Raju intimated the same telegraphically to the opposite party and other authorities on 1.3.1996. The opposite party appointed M/s. Metcalf and Hudgkinson Private Limited, Kakinada. Though search operations were conducted under the instructions of the Surveyor with the help of Professional Salvers M/s. Dharmadi Apparao and Party the sunken boat could not be traced. The opposite party maintained stoic silence over the claim dragging on the same for years without any settlement. Hence this complaint claiming a compensation of Rs. 5,50,000/ -. The opposite party while denying the material allegations in the complaint admitted that the complainant is the owner of the boat bearing registration No. KKD 1754. The registration of the boat expired by 24.2.1996. There was no renewal of the same from that date. There was no seaworthiness certificate from the Registrar of Indian Fishing Boats, Kakinada from 24.2.1996 which is fatal as per the policy conditions. There was no valid registration on 29.2.1996, the alleged date of mishap. On coming to know of the mishap the opposite party immediately appointed M/s. Metcalf and Hudgkinson (P.) Ltd., as Surveyors who reported that the boat was yawing after one hour of steaming in the direction from Bhyravapalem and there was no mention of rough weather either by the crew or Meteorological Department. It is further reported that if the water has gushed into the boat the floating ship would submerge and in such circumstances jolting is not associated unless there is heavy weather disturbance in the sea. It is also not possible for the driver to conduct investigation by entering into the fish hold as it is not possible to enter into the fish hold by removing the external covers of the propeller shaft and inspect the stern gland in the water filled compartment. As the sky was clear and visibility was 8 miles and many fishing boats are in the vicinity the mishap could have been noticed by them and the crew would have easily attended to the loose bolts. The stern tube flange would never give way in a calm weather condition which is unnatural. As the claim appears to be suspicious and investigation was ordered and the outcome of the investigation is awaited there is no deficiency in service. There is no cause of action for the complainant for approaching this Commission. The complaint is premature and is liable to be dismissed.;

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