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M/s Chhabra Travels v/s The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd.

    First Appeal No. 456 of 2011

    Decided On, 11 March 2016

    At, Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission New Delhi

    By, MEMBER

    For the Appearing Parties: -----.

Judgment Text

S.C. Jain, Member

1. This appeal has been filed by the appellant against the orders dated 13.06.2011 passed by the Ld. District Forum-II, Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi in Complaint Case No. 988/2005 vide which Ld. District Forum has dismissed the complaint of the appellant/complainant being without merit.

2. Brief facts of the complaint are that the appellant/complainant is a travel agency running in the name and style of M/s Chhabra Travels and running its business with the help of a fleet of cars running as a taxi. Appellant/complainant was also having one Honda City Car plying as taxi bearing No. DL-1Z-0645 in the fleet of their Motor vehicles. Appellant/complainant got his car insured with the respondent/OP i.e. M/s Oriental Insurance Company for the period from 22.12.2000 to 21.12.2001 for an amount of Rs. 4,95,000/- alongwith Rs. 5000/- extra for the stereo of the car. On 20.10.2001, the said vehicle was on its trip to Jaipur and when it reached near Daruhera in Haryana one motorcycle came from its front side and in order to avoid the accident with the motorcycle, driver of the car i.e. the taxi took a turn and while doing so the taxi hit into a wall and got damaged from its four sides. Consequently complainant brought his vehicle back to Delhi and handover the vehicle to the workshop M/s Southend Honda and informed the insurance company.

3. Respondent/OP appointed its surveyor viz Engineer Sh. Dinesh Kumar Gupta to inspect the vehicle and assess the loss. Accordingly, the surveyor after inspecting the vehicle submitted its report dated 04.11.2001 and opined that the loss of the extensive damages to the vehicle is to the tune of Rs. 2,32,500/-. The surveyor further opined that the insurance liability on its repair would further increase for unforeseen damages. Respondent/OP further appointed another surveyor who also submits its report and advised the respondent/OP to settle the loss at Rs. 1,75,500/- for which the complainant was also ready.

4. It was further stated in the complaint that the appellant/complainant vide its letter dated 17.06.2003 informed the respondent/OP about the badge No. of the driver as 171 in response to the respondent/OP’s letter dated 02.05.2003. But, thereafter, respondent/OP did not make any contact with the appellant/complainant despite his several personal visits and, ultimately, respondent/OP vide its letter dated 13.10.2003 informed the appellant/complainant that the claim of their vehicle has been repudiated on the grounds that the driver who was driving the vehicle at the time of accident was not holding a valid HPV License and was holding HTV License and secondly the badge number given by the complainant could not be verified. Appellant/complainant further stated in their complaint that HTV License held by the driver who was driving the taxi was of the highest form of driving license which entitles its holder to drive any kind of vehicle. Whereas HPV Driving License holder can drive the HPV vehicle only. HPV Vehicles and badge number was not verified by the respondent/OP themselves which is negligence on their part and on not receiving any response from the respondent/OP the complainant filed the complaint with the District Forum praying therein for directions to the respondent/OP to pay a sum of Rs. 1,75,500/- being the insurance claim amount as assessed by the second surveyor with interest @ 18% for the delay period in settling the claim and has further prayed for a compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- for mental agony and harassment and Rs. 21,000/- towards costs of litigation.

5. Respondent/OP contested their case before the Ld. District Forum mainly on the abovementioned two ground i.e. driver who was driving the car/taxi was not holding a valid driving license and the badge number could not be verified.

6. Ld. District Forum after considering the submissions of both the parties and documents place on record came to the conclusion that if a person is having a license for medium goods vehicle then he does not become automatically entitled to drive light vehicle and in such situation, he has no valid license to drive LMV and came to the conclusion that the vehicle of the complainant/appellant was not being driven by a person who was holding a valid and effective driving license and the badge number of the driver was also found to be fake one and dismissed the complaint being meritless.

7. Appellant/complainant filed this appeal against the above findings of the District Forum. Notice of the appeal was served upon the respondent/OP, who appeared and contested their case.

8. The main grounds taken in appeal by the appellant/complainant are that the Ld. District Forum has failed to appreciate that the claim of the complainant was genuine and based on the valid and proper driving license as well as the badge of the driver and the District Forum has failed to appreciate that the person holding a HTV driving license can also drive the HPV Vehicles and the person holding HPV Driving License or HTV Driving License can very well drive light motor vehicle i.e. LMV. Another ground taken by the appellant/complainant is that Ld. District Forum has miserably failed to appreciate that the respondent/OP in its written version has submitted that the badge of the driver of the vehicle could not be verified at the R.T.Office but the conclusion drawn by the Ld. District Forum that the badge was forged and fabricated document or a invalid document is totalling misconstrained, neither the investigator nor the respondent/OP have anywhere stated that they had verified the badge from the RTO and was found to be forged and fabricated document. Rather investigator of the respondent/OP company in their report had submitted that the badge of the driver could not be verified from the Loni (OP) R.T.Office or from the Rajpur Road Delhi, R.T.Office.

9. The respondent/OP during the course of arguments had only emphasised that the person who drive any vehicle must hold the driving license of the type the vehicle is driven and a person driving the car/taxi must have HPV License and if the person is holding HTV License then it cannot be stated that he is holding a valid driving license and as to the other grounds of the appellant that he was holding the proper badge number 171 and it was the duty of the investigator or the respondent/OP to verify the same from the concerned RTO is also not true as it was the duty of the complainant/appellant to give proof of the genuineness of the badge.

10. After going through the submissions made by both the parties we are of the considered view that if somebody having a driving license to drive heavy vehicle then that person automatically become entitled to drive light motor vehicle. Hon’ble National Commission in a case titled as United India Insurance Company Ltd. Vs Inderjeet Chauhan IV (2006) CPJ 15 (NC) held that a person having driving license to drive 'heavy goods vehicle' it would means that he shall be entitled to drive transport vehicle, and the present case is squarely covered by the view taken by the Hon’ble National Commission as cited above and we hold that in the present case also as the person who was driving the vehicle was having HTV driving license so was very well entitle to drive HPV Transport vehicle and the District Forum has miserably failed to reach to the right proposition of law.

11. As regards the controversy towards badge number, it is clear from the facts and submissions made by both the parties that the respondent/OP as well as its investigators and surveyors failed to verify from the concerned RTOs about the genuineness of the badge in the absence of which it cannot be viewed that the badge was fake and fabricated and the District Forum erred in holding that the badge of the driver was fake and fabricated.

12. The appeal is accordingly allowed and the orders passed by the District Forum-II, New Delhi in Complaint Case No. 988/2005 on 13.06.2011 are hereby set aside and the complaint is allowed and respondent/OP is directed to pay a sum of Rs. 1,75,500/- to the appellant/complainant being the insurance claim as assessed by the

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second surveyor alongwith interest @ 9% p.a. from the date of filing of the complaint with the District Forum till realisation. The respondent/OP shall also pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000/- to the appellant/complainant for mental agony and harassment suffered by the appellant/complainant this will include costs of litigation also. 13. The abovesaid orders be complied with by the respondent/OP within a period of thirty days from the receipt of these orders and if the respondent/OP fails to comply with these orders, the appellant/complainant shall be at liberty to approach District Forum concerned under section 25/27 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Appeal is accordingly disposed of in above terms. 14. Copy of the orders be made available to the parties free of costs as per rules and one copy be sent to the District Forum concerned and thereafter the file be consigned to Records.