GURBAX SINGH BANGA Vs. AVIVA LIFE INSURANCE CO INDIA PVT LTD
Gurbax Singh Banga
Aviva Life Insurance Co India Pvt Ltd
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(1.) The complainant / petitioner took a Life Long Unit Linked Insurance Policy from the respondent company paying a premium of Rs.4,50,000/- for the first year. The complainant paid two more yearly premium of Rs.4,50,000/- each thereby making the total premium made by him to Rs.13,50,000/- in three years. The petitioner / complainant thereafter sought discontinuation of the policy. The respondent company refunded an amount of Rs.657928/- to the complainant. Being dissatisfied, he approached the concerned District Forum by way of a consumer complaint.
(2.) The consumer complaint was not resisted by the respondent company and was allowed by the District Forum. Being aggrieved from the order of the District Forum, the respondent company approached the concerned District Forum by way of an appeal. The appeal, however, came to be dismissed solely on the ground that the complainant was not a consumer. Being aggrieved, the complainant / petitioner is before this Commission.
(3.) The first question which arises for consideration is as to whether the complainant / petitioner can be said to be a consumer or nor. The term 'consumer' has been defined in Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which was applicable at the relevant time. A person purchasing good or hiring or availing services for consideration is a consumer unless the goods are purchased or the services hired or availed for a commercial purposes. This is not the case of anyone that the complainant is engaged in the business of buying such policies and then making profit by surrendering these policies. In fact by its very nature such a policy cannot be said to have been taken for speculative purposes. The policy was for a period of 30 years and as per the terms of the policy which the complainant claims not to have received, the policy holder had to continue with the policy for at least 10 years. Though the policy could be surrendered after two years, very heavy penalties were prescribed in case the policy was surrendered prematurely. Such a transaction can never said to be for a commercial purpose. A reference in this regard can be made to the decision of this Commission in First Appeal No. 1173 OF 2014 - Paramjit Kaur Vs. Aviva Life Insurance Co. India Ltd. date 14.3.2016 wherein the Commission interalia held as under:-
"4. Learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that as policy was obtained for life along with accidental benefits and not for speculative purpose, learned State Commission committed error in dismissing complaint as not maintainable on the ground of investment for speculative business; hence, appeal be allowed and impugned order be set aside and mater may be remanded back to the learned State Commission to decide complaint on merits. On the other hand, learned Counsel for the respondent submitted that order passed by learned State Commission is in accordance with law; hence, appeal be dismissed.
5. Perusal of disputed policy reveals that it was named as Life Long Unit Linked Fund and sum insured was Rs.14,00,000/- and regular annual premium amount was Rs.1,00,000/-. It also covered accidental benefits of Rs.14,00,000/-. Learned State Commission observed that complaint was not maintainable in the light of judgment of this Commission in Ram Lal Aggarwalla Vs. Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Anr. , 2013 3 CPJ 203 (NC) whereas, perusal of aforesaid judgment reveals that in the aforesaid case Unit Gain Super Diamond Policy was taken with Rs.2,00,000/- annual premium for 24 years. Policy in the aforesaid case was for investment purpose whereas, disputed policy is for covering life as well accidental benefit and this policy cannot be equated with policy in the case of Ram Lal Aggarwalla (Supra). Learned State Commission has committed error in dismissing complaint as not maintainable as policy was for investment in speculative business. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on judgment of this Commission in Met Life India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Addanki Satyanarayana , 2012 LawSuit(CO) 606 in which claim for unit linked policy with life insurance was held maintainable before Consumer Fora, though, in that policy maturity value was 2,51,73,756/- and death benefit was only Rs.5,02,000/- whereas in the case in hand, sum assured was Rs.14,00,000/- along with accidental benefits of same amount. Thus, it becomes clear that complaint filed by the complainant was maintainable before learned State Commission and learned State Commission committed error in dismissing complaint as not maintainable and appeal is to be allowed." ;
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