A Two Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna in the matter of Gurmel Singh vs. Branch Manager, National Insurance Co. Ltd. Civil Appeal No. 4071 of 2022 passed a Judgment dated 20-05-2022 and while allowing the Appeal held that the insurance company became too technical while settling the claim of the Appellant and that the Appellant cannot be denied insurance claim solely on the ground that the Appellant failed to furnish duplicate copy of the certificate of registration.
The Appellant herein the Original Complainant was the registered owner of the truck with the registration number CG-04-JC-4984. From the period 22-08-2012 to 21-08-2013, the said vehicle was insured with the Respondent herein the insurance company. The Appellant also paid the Respondent a premium of Rs. 28,880/. On 23-03-2013 – 24-03-2013 midnight, the vehicle in question was stolen and an FIR (FIR No. 57/13) was immediately filed at the Police Station Kumhari. The Complainant also informed the insurance company and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) about the theft of the truck on the same day. The Appellant submitted all of the documents requested by the insurance company after providing information about the theft, but the insurance company failed to settle the claim.
Aggrieved by the delay, the Appellant filed a Consumer Complaint No. 200/2013 before the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Durg, Chhattisgarh. The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission disposed the Complaint dated 03-12-2013 and directed the Appellant to provide a duplicate certified copy of the registration certificate of the truck to the insurance company within a month and the insurance company was directed to settle the claim within a month after receiving the said copy.
The Appellant filed an application with the RTO to obtain a duplicate certified copy of the truck’s registration certificate. But, the RTO refused to issue a duplicate certified copy on the grounds that the details regarding the registration certificate on the computer had been locked due to the report of the theft of the truck. Following that, the Appellant filed an Application with the insurance company, along with a photocopy of the certificate of registration and registration particulars. Despite the above, the claim was not settled.
The Appellant filed a new Consumer Complaint bearing no. 179/2014 before the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. The District Commission dismissed the complaint vide order dated 23-01-2015 as the Appellant had not submitted the relevant documents for settlement of the claim. The Order passed by the District Commission was confirmed by the State Commission and also the National Commission by an Impugned Order dated 03-08-2021 in Revision Petition No. 2898/2015.
The Supreme Court observed that the Appellant had produced the photocopy of the certificate of registration and the registration particulars as required by the RTO. The Appellant cannot be denied insurance claim solely on the ground that the original certificate was not produced. The insurance company became too technical while settling the claim and acted arbitrarily. The Appellant was asked to provide documents that were beyond his control. The insurance company should not have become too technical and should not have refused to settle the claim due to Appellant’s inability to produce duplicate copy of the certificate of registration.
The Supreme Court thus observed that :
5. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the order passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Durg, Chhattisgarh, dismissing the complaint filed by the appellant and the orders passed by the State Commission and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, confirming the same deserve to be set aside and are hereby set aside. The original complaint being Consumer Complaint No. 179/2014 filed before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Durg, Chhattisgarh, is hereby allowed. The appellant is entitled to the insurance amount of Rs. 12 lakhs along with interest @ 7 per cent from the date of submitting the claim. The respondent – insurance company is also saddled with the liability to pay the litigation cost, which is quantified at Rs. 25,000/ to be paid to the appellant herein. The aforesaid amount is to be paid by the insurance company to the appellant within a period of four weeks from today.
Hence based on the aforesaid observations, the Supreme Court allowed the present Appeal and set aside the Orders passed by the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, the State Commission and the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
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