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Sunday, January 20, 2013

theft of insured vehicle =“In the case of theft where no bodily injury has been caused to the insured, it is incumbent upon the respondent to inform the Police about the theft immediately, say within 24 hours, otherwise, valuable time would be lost in tracing the vehicle. Similarly, the insurer should also be informed within a day or two so that the insurer can verify as to whether any theft had taken place and also to take immediate steps to get the vehicle traced. The insurer can coordinate and cooperate with the Police to trace the car. Delay in reporting to the insurer about the theft of the car for 9 days would be a violation of condition of the Policy as it deprives the insures of a valuable right to investigate as to the commission of the theft and to trace/help in tracing the vehicle.”


NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
NEW DELHI

REVISION PETITION NO.4702 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 06.09.2012 in First Appeal No.732/2011 of the State Commission, Haryana)


Tejbir Singh
S/o Sh. Mehar Singh
R/o VPO Shimli,
Distt. Rohtak, Haryana                                                                                                                                 ……….Petitioner


Versus

The Divisional Manager
Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.
Jawahar Market, Model Town,
Rohtak;
Through Regional Manager,
Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.,
Regional Office, LIC Building,
2nd floor, Jagadhari Road
Ambala Cantt.                                                                                                                                                  .........Respondent



BEFORE
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE  J. M. MALIK,
                              PRESIDING MEMBER
HON’BLE MR. VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER



For the Petitioner         :   Ms. Ashmi Mohan, Advocate


PRONOUNCED ON: 11.01.2013.


ORDER

PER MR.VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER

The revision petitioner Tejbir Singh was the Complainant before District Consumer Forum Rohtak in Complaint No.237 of 2009.  The Complaint had been filed against the decision of the respondent/ Oriental Insurance Co., which had repudiated his insurance claim on 11.05.2009.  The claim itself had arisen from alleged theft of his insured vehicle on 17.12.2007.   The District Forum allowed the complaint holding that the report of the Surveyor appointed by the insurance company itself showed that the date, time and palace of theft was genuine and observing that:-
“The claim has been repudiated vide letter dated 11.05.09 on the ground that the driver of the vehicle did not take due care of the vehicle who had consumed drugs and due to his negligence the snatching of vehicle took place and it was violation of condition no.5 of the policy.  The perusal of FIR Ex. R16 reflects that the driver of the vehicle has consumed Sulpha but version recorded in FIR cannot be taken as conclusive proof of fact as there is nothing on record to prove this fact.  The claim has been repudiated only on the above said ground coupled with clause 5 of the policy.”

2.      The appeal of respondent/Oriental Insurance Co. was allowed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Haryana in FA No.732 of 2011. Before the State Commission, appellant Oriental Insurance Co. also contended that in the instant case the Complainant had given information to the insurance co. on 12 2.2008, whereas the vehicle in question was allegedly stolen/snatched on 17.12.2007.  Admittedly, there was a delay of more than two months in informing the insurer, which was a violation of condition no.1 of the policy.  The State Commission therefore allowed the appeal holding that:-
“Undisputedly, the vehicle in question was stolen on 17.12.2007 and the information to the Insurance Company was given on 12.2.2008 i.e. after more than two months from the date of alleged theft.  FIR was recorded on 18.12.2007 i.e. after 1 days from the date of alleged theft, which reflects that the driver of the vehicle has consumed “Sulpha”.  As per FIR, the driver of the vehicle had consumed four-five Biri of Sulpha, while driving the vehicle.  Thus, the complainant violated the condition no.5 of the policy.  The District Consumer Forum has not appreciated the factual position on record and committed great error while accepting the complaint of the complainant and as such the impugned order under challenge is not sustainable in the eyes of law.

3.      The case of the revision petitioner before us is that the State Commission was wrong in holding that there was delay in informing the insurance company about the theft of the vehicle and that the driver was under the influence of drug (Sulfa Biri). It is also alleged that the State Commission has ignored the investigation report of M/s. Royal Associates Surveyor and Loss Accessories, which clearly stated that the date time and place of theft appeared to be genuine.  

4.      Ms. Ashmi Mohan, counsel for the revision petitioner/Complainant argued that the Surveyor appointed by the insurance co. has assessed the loss to the Complainant by this theft of his truck.  The Complainant had fully cooperated with the investigation of the surveyor.  However, the counsel admitted the fact that the insurance co. was informed of this incident of theft with considerable delay, on 12.2.2008. Further, we have carefully perused the records submitted by the revision petitioner and thereafter the matter has been considered for disposal on merits at the stage of admission itself.

5.      According to the complaint petition before the District Forum, the theft occurred on 17.12.2007 when the truck was returning to Karnal from Delhi. Joginder Singh, was the Driver and Krishna Kumar was the cleaner of the truck. A perusal of the FIR filed by Krishna Kumar shows that when they stopped the truck at Gharonda at 8.oo p.m, the driver Joginder smoked 4-5 Biris containing ‘Sulfa’ (intoxicant) and thereafter they parked the truck near a dhaba for taking meals.  FIR also shows that they were there till late after 1200 hrs in the night,  when the vehicle was snatched by four young men, who allegedly drove the truck back towards Panipat.  In this background, the contention of the revision petitioner that the State Commission was wrong in holding that the driver was under the influence of drug, needs to be rejected at the threshold itself.  The opinion of the Surveyor that the place and time of theft were genuine, will be of no relevance to the question of violation of condition no.5 of the policy.

6.      Coming to the question of violation of condition no.1 of the policy relating to the delay in forming the insurance co., the State Commission has relied upon the decision of the National Commission in  New India Assurance Company Limited Vs. Trilochan Jane – First Appeal No.321 of 2005 decided on 09.12.2009.   The facts are seen to be very similar to those of the case before us.   In that case the vehicle was missing from 8.4.2000 and the FIR was lodged on 10.4.2000. After investigation, the Police eventually filed an untraced report.  There was also a delay of nine days in informing the insurance co. and the claim was rejected by the insurer on that account.  The National Commission had held that:-
“In the case of theft where no bodily injury has been caused to the insured, it is incumbent upon the respondent to inform the Police about the theft immediately, say within 24 hours, otherwise, valuable time would be lost in tracing the vehicle.  Similarly, the insurer should also be informed within a day or two so that the insurer can verify as to whether any theft had taken place and also to take immediate steps to get the vehicle traced.  The insurer can coordinate and cooperate with the Police to trace the car.  Delay in reporting to the insurer about the theft of the car for 9 days would be a violation of condition of the Policy as it deprives the insures of a valuable right to investigate as to the commission of the theft and to trace/help in tracing the vehicle.”

7.      We respectfully confirm and reiterate the view taken by this Commission in the above mentioned decision and hold that it is fully applicable to the facts of the case now before use.

8.      For the reasons above, we are of the view that the revision petitioner has failed to make out any case against the impugned order.  Accordingly, the revision petition is dismissed for want of merit and the order of the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in FA No.732 of 2011 is confirmed. No order as to costs.
.………………Sd/-…………
(J. M. MALIK, J.)
PRESIDING MEMBER

……………Sd/-…………….
(VINAY KUMAR)
                                                                                   MEMBER
S./-








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