Decided on October 21,2020

Uetc India Ltd. Appellant


ANUP K.THAKUR, J. - (1.) UETC- Singapore, the holding company of the UETC-Delhi, India Ltd., and four timber traders based in India entered into a sales contract whereby UETC- Singapore agreed to sell to the traders, at an agreed price, 'Pyinkado Round Logs' (PRL hereafter). The sales contracts mandated that marine insurance for the India shipment had to be arranged by the seller at the seller's cost. The vessel, MV EDINA MARIA, carrying PRL from Yangon, Myanmar to Tuticorin, India, ran aground, in Indian territorial waters, and was abandoned, with cargo on board. This gave rise to insurance claims on the OP-United India Insurance Co. Ltd. (OP hereafter) by UETC-Delhi, the complainant herein. The OP denied the insurance claims, hence this consumer complaint.
(2.) Heard arguments on 17.10.2019 and 17.01.2020.
(3.) Learned counsel for the complainant referred to one of the sales contracts, that between UETC-Singapore and M/s MM Saw Mills and Industries, Kerala dated 30.06.2005 (Part III- additional document submitted vide IA 17594/2018) and to the Bill of Lading ( Ann. C), to submit that 173.372 H.Tons of PRL was loaded on MV Edna Maria (vessel hereafter) per the sales contract, part of a total cargo of 993.442 HT (1120 logs). Marine insurance was to be arranged by the seller at the sellers cost. Accordingly, insurance premium was deposited by Shri Biju Abraham on behalf of UETC-Singapore with the OP per receipt dated 4.7.2005, and a specific voyage policy dated 4.7.2005, for journey from Yangon, Myanmar to Tuticorin Port, India, carrying PRL, favouring the assured, M/s MM Saw mills and Industries, was issued. Similarly, policies were issued in favour of the other Indian importers. All these policies are at Ann. D-colly. On 23.07.2005, the vessel ran aground in Indian territorial waters owing to rough weather. The insured-consignees, vide letters dated 26.07.2005, intimated the OP about the incident; and vide letters dated 27.07.2005, intimated the OP about their irrevocably assigning their insurance policies to UETC-Delhi, the complainant (Ann. E and F-colly). On 11.08.2005, the complainant wrote to Shaba Maritime Co., the owner of the vessel, giving them the particulars of insurance policies and informing them that the letter be treated as a provisional claim intimation for the loss of entire cargo valued at US $ 455,496.09 (Rs.2,00,41,828/-); on the same date, the complainant also addressed the OP requesting registration of its claim with respect to the cargo loss of Rs.2,00,41,828/- (Ann. G-colly). Vide letter dated 25.10.2005, the complainant, informing that the vessel had been declared as "Constructive Total Loss", requested OP to process the claim qua cargo on the vessel (Ann. J). Vide letter dated 09.12.2005, a claim for Rs.2,00,41,828/- , due to non-delivery of the consignment, was submitted to the OP (Ann.-L). Scansea services (Kerala), investigator/surveyors appointed by the OP submitted their report dated 15.12.2005 to the OP (Ann. OP-5). On 5.1.2006, complainant addressed the OP requesting urgent settlement in order that their right of recovery from the vessel owners did not get diminished. On 06.01.2006, complainant issued a legal notice to the owners and managers of the vessel (Shahba Maritime Co., Delaware, USA; Petroland LCC, Sharjah, U.A.E; Chahaya Shipping and Trading Co., Singapore and Terra Nova Protection and Indemnity Agency, London) making a claim for the loss and also restraining their insurer from making any payment till this claim was settled (Ann. O). However, vide letter dated 24.01.2006, OP repudiated the complainant's insurance claim on frivolous grounds (Ann.-P). Thereafter, some exchange of letters between the complaint and the OP took place. Finally, the complainant issued a legal notice dated 24.1.2007 to the OP claiming Rs.5,00,41,828/- with 18% simple interest with effect from 24.1.2006, date of repudiation, on grounds of complete breach of contract and deficiency in service; OP duly replied, denying the breach of contract and other allegations, vide letter of its advocate dated 30.01.2007 (Ann. X-colly).;

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