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M/s. Lally Automobiles v/s The Oriental Insurance Company Limited

    First Appeal No. 789 of 2015

    Decided On, 19 February 2016

    At, Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Panchkula


    For the Appellant: A.S. Khara, Advocate. For the Respondent: J.P. Nahar, Advocate.

Judgment Text

B.M. Bedi, Judicial Member

1. M/s Lally Automobiles-Complainant/appellant, is in appeal against the order dated March 2nd, 2015, passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Karnal (for short ‘the District Forum’), whereby complaint filed by it was dismissed.

2. Car bearing registration No.CH-04K-0635, Tata Sumo Victa make, owned by appellant was insured with The Oriental Insurance Company Limited (for short ‘the Insurance Company’)-Opposite Party/respondent, for the period June 6th, 2010 to June 5th, 2011, vide Insurance Policy Annexure A-3. The Insured Declare Value (IDV) of the car was Rs.4,78,080/-.

3. On September 28th, 2010, the car was damaged in an accident, while being driven by driver-Satish Kumar. On being informed, the Insurance Company appointed surveyor who inspected the vehicle and assessed the damage at Rs.2,17,853/-. The appellant got the car repaired from Malwa Motors Private Limited, Karnal and produced bill of Rs.2,77,520/- (Annexure A-4) to the Insurance Company alongwith the claim form. However, the claim filed by the appellant was repudiated by the Insurance Company, vide letter Annexure A-5, stating as under:-

'On going through the contents of our Survey Report and DL submitted by you, as DL pertains to Mr. Satish Kumar, issued from LA, Karnal, valid only for M.cycle/scooter/car/jeep/tractor only, who is not authorized to drive TATA SUMO (LMV-T) at the time of accident for which LMV(T) endorsement is required.

In view of the above, as DL was not valid & effective for driving LMV (T) at the time of accident, hence, claim is hereby repudiated and closed the file as No claim.'

4. Aggrieved of the repudiation of its claim, the complainant filed complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, before District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Karnal (for short ‘the District Forum’).

5. The Insurance Company, in its reply reiterated the fact stated in the repudiation letter and prayed for dismissal of the complaint.

6. The District Forum vide order dated March 2nd, 2015, dismissed the complaint. Hence appeal.

7. Indisputably, the car of the appellant was insured with the Insurance Company. It is also not in dispute that during the subsistence of the insurance policy, the car was damaged in the accident and the complainant got repaired it from Malwa Motors Private Limited, Karnal, and incurred Rs.2,77,520/-.

8. The only dispute is with respect to the driving licence of Satish Kumar-driver, who was holding a valid and effective driving licence to drive Motor Cycle, Scooter, Car/Jeep, Tractor only.9. The contention raised on behalf of the Insurance Company is that Satish Kumar-driver, was authorized to drive Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) whereas Tata Sumo, is a Light Motor Vehicle Transport (LMV-T) and thus the Insurance Company was not liable to indemnify the appellant.

10. Sub-section (21) of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 (for short, ‘the Act’) define ‘light motor vehicle’ as under:-

'(21) light motor vehicle' means a transport vehicle or omnibus the gross vehicle weight of either of which or a motor car or tractor or road-roller the unladen weight of any of which, does not exceed 7500 kilograms;'

11. Copy of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle in question has been produced on record as Exhibit OP-6. A perusal of this document shows that Unladen weight of this vehicle is 1950 Kgs. Thus, Tata Sumo falls within the definition of Light Motor Vehicle. In view of this the driver having driving licence of LMV was competent to drive Tata Sumo.

12. Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, inJeet alias Ajit Singh and another versus Poonam and others, 2006(4) R.C.R. (Civil) 640, held that the definition of ‘light motor vehicle’ includes a ‘transport vehicle’ of less than 7500 kilograms. Since the unladen weight of Tata Sumo was 1950 Kgs, it falls under the definition of LMV of which Satish Kumar-driver, was holding a valid and effective driving licence. The District Forum has failed to appreciate the above stated legal and factual position on the record and as such the impugned order cannot sustain. It is held that the Insurance Company is liable to indemnify the appellant with respect to the damage of Tata Sumo bearing registration No.CH-04k-0635, which was insured with it at the time of accident.

13. Coming now to the question of quantum of compensation. The surveyor of the Insurance Company assessed the loss at Rs.2,17,853/-, which has to be taken into consideration.

14. Hon’ble Supreme Court inUnited India Insurance Co. Ltd., & Ors. Vs. Roshan Lal Oil Mills Ltd. & Ors., (2000) 10 SCC 19, held that surveyor’s report is an important document and non-consideration of this important document results in serious miscarriage of justice.

15. Hon’ble Supreme Court inSri Venkateswara Syndicate vs Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., and Another,(2009) 8 Supreme Court Cases 507, held as under:-

'There is no disputing the fact that the surveyor/ surveyors are appointed by the insurance company under the provisions of the Insurance Act and their reports are to be given due importance and one should have sufficient grounds not to agree with the assessment made by them'.

16. InD.N.Badoni Vs. Oriental Insurance Co.Ltd, 1 (2012) CPJ 272 (NC),Hon’ble National Com

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mission held thatSurveyor’s report hassignificantevidentiary value unless, it is proved otherwise. 17. There is no evidence contrary to the report of the surveyor and therefore due weightage has to be given to it. So, it is held that the Insurance Company is liable to pay Rs.2,17,853/- to the appellant. 18. For the reasons recorded above, the appeal is accepted, the impugned order is set aside. By allowing complaint, the Insurance Company, is directed to pay Rs.2,17,853/- to the appellant alongwith interest @ 9% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint till its realisation.