NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED Vs. SKY GEMS
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED
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K. G. Balakrishnan, J. -
(1.)Civil Appeal No. 559 of 1994 by National Insurance Co. Ltd. and Civil Appeal No. 633 of 1994 by M/s. Sky Gems are filed against the judgment dated 21st Dec. 1993, passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (hereinafter referred to as 'National Commission'). The respondent Sky Gems exported two parcels of precious stones (Emerald) to London through the Foreign Post Office, New Delhi on 10-9-1990. However, the consignment did not reach the consignee and was believed to have been either stolen or lost in transit. The respondent had taken two insurance policies from the appellant-insurance company. The total sum assured was Pound Sterling 85.740.55 (CIF Value + 10%). M/s . W.K. Webster and Company. London, were appointed as investigators and their report dated 25-3-1991 confirmed that the consignment had either been lost or stolen. Non-delivery certificate was issued by the Department of Posts (Foreign Post), New Delhi, in respect of the consignment. The postal authorities admitted their liability and made payment at the rate of Rs. 10,254.50 for each parcel representing the full insured value and service charges. In respect of the two policies obtained from the appellant-Insurance Company, respondent preferred claim and the appellant agreed to settle the same for Rs. 28,30,000/-. The respondent claimed from the appellant an amount of Pounds Sterling 1,07, 175.60 and insisted that the payments be made in Pounds. For some reason or the other, there was a delay in settlement of the claim and the respondent filed a petition before the National Commission. The appellant resisted the claim and contended that it was not liable to pay the respondent in Pounds Sterling. It was also contended that as the title on the goods had not passed to the consignee, the respondent continued to be the owner of the goods and, therefore, the payment could be effected only in Indian Currency.
(2.)The National Commission held that as the insurance policies clearly stated that the claim was "payable at London" and the declared invoice value and the insured value of the consignments were in terms of Pounds Sterling, the appellant was liable to pay to the respondent in Pounds Sterling and ultimately ordered the appellant to pay Pounds Sterling 85,740/- + 10% or Pounds Sterling 94,314/- . The respondent was also held entitled to recover interest at the rate prevalent on commercial borrowings in U.K. from time to time, commencing from January, 1991 to the end of Dec. 1993. The appellant was entitled to adjust the amount of Rs. 20,000/- received as compensation from the postal authorities. A sum of Rs. 50,000/- was also ordered as compensation for delayed payment. This Order of the National Commission has been challenged before us.
(3.)We heard Mr. M.S. Nargolkar, learned Senior Counsel on behalf of the appellant and Mr. V.A. Mohanty, learned Senior Counsel on behalf of the respondent. The dispute in this case is only with regard to the mode of payment to be effected by the appellant in favour of the respondent. The counsel for the respondent contended that as per the terms of the policy, the insured amount was payable at London and, therefore, the payment to be effected has to be in Pounds Sterling. The consignment of the precious stones was dispatched in favour of M/s. Emdico (London) Limited. As per the insurance policy, the claim for settlement was given to M/s. W.K. Webster and Company, 6 Lloyd's Avenue, London. The contention of the respondent is that as the insurance policy specifically stated that the claim was payable at London, the payment should be made by the appellant only in Pounds Sterling.
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