NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD Vs. SRI BUCHIYYAMMA RICE MILL
LAWS(SC)-2020-1-133
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on January 21,2020

NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD Appellant
VERSUS
Sri Buchiyyamma Rice Mill Respondents




JUDGEMENT

DR DHANANJAYA Y.CHANDRACHUD, J. - (1.) Leave granted.
(2.) This appeal arises from a judgment of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission1 dated 4 February 2019, by which the decision of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission 2 was reversed and the insurer was directed to pay a sum of Rs. 29,23,503 together with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum from the date of repudiation of claim i.e. 15 October 2007.
(3.) The first respondent has a rice mill situated in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The claim of the first respondent was in terms of three standard fire and special perils insurance policies, to cover specified risks in respect of plant and machinery, the building, the godowns, stock of rice, paddy, and the boiling units in the year 2004-2005. On 19 April 2005, the first respondent reported that while the rice mill was in operation, a lorry which was in the process of reversing, collided with the boiler unit, as a result of which the boiler unit collapsed in its entirety together with sixteen storage tanks including a paddy bin and an elevator. The damage was estimated at Rs 76 lakhs. A First Information Report was lodged on 21 April 2005, and a telegraphic intimation was furnished to the appellant on the same day. Initially, the appellant deputed Mr. V. Satya Sai Baba, an insurance surveyor to conduct a preliminary survey of the damage. The report of the preliminary survey was submitted on 25 April 2005 wherein, it was stated that it was unlikely that the incident had taken place in the manner in which the insured had claimed. The survey report indicated several reasons in support of these findings, which are extracted below: 1. According to the information given by the lorry driver of ADB7047 while he is reversing the lorry towards the paddy boiling unit he suddenly heard some noise and jumped from the lorry and observed the collapsing of the paddy boiling unit. 2. After observing the collapsed paddy boiling unit and alleged impact truck ADB7047 jointly the following observations were clearly observed. a. The alleged impact truck rear portion collapsed boiling unit structures are having reasonable distance, which means there is no direct impact of alleged truck and structures. Photo no 10 shows the clear picture. b. A huge MS sheet of the paddy boiling bin is hanging in between the alleged truck and collapsed structure. c. No damages bending or twisting of the back portion of the body of the alleged impact vehicle were found and the body is in good condition. 3. The alleged impact truck was found far away from the structure. Hence the structure collapsed due to alleged impact by truck is to be thoroughly investigated. The same was informed immediately to the insurer. 4. Based on collapsed structure observations I found the boiling unit columns are flatten like compresseds' and not collapsed unevenly. After observing this type of collapse, which might be occurred only during structural failure cases. Hence a structural expert opinion is also required in order to ascertain the real cause of damage. This information was also informed to the insurer immediately. 5. The undersigned observed the insured premises of boiling unit area. The majority of the operations carried from other side of alleged impact truck location. The clear axes of loading, unloading and other operations are carrying to boiling unit from that side only. The present alleged impact truck found location was found to be not accessible for the above operation. 6. The insured boiling unit was originally designed for 8 bins and extended to 16 bins during 2004 ending. This extension work was carried without proper balancing the structure at full load, which might be the one of the cause of failure of boiling unit structure. 7. Total paddy boiling unit structure including tanks was collapsed. 8. All boiling tanks were with paddy under process at the time of collapse."  (Emphasis supplied);


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