w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



M/s. P.P. Agro Industries v/s National Insurance Co Ltd & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = U10200WB1906GOI001713

Company & Directors' Information:- T T G INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U27209TN1987PLC014169

Company & Directors' Information:- K. N. C. AGRO LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01500WB2005PLC102657

Company & Directors' Information:- K L R INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U28939TG2002PLC038416

Company & Directors' Information:- F AND K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01111PN1980PTC014563

Company & Directors' Information:- H G I INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = L40200WB1944PLC011754

Company & Directors' Information:- R K B AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = L17100KA1979PLC003492

Company & Directors' Information:- R T AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15400MH1988PTC122934

Company & Directors' Information:- D D INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1974PLC007169

Company & Directors' Information:- G R S INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U00000PB2005PLC029159

Company & Directors' Information:- N M AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15209DL2000PTC103461

Company & Directors' Information:- V S P INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17111TZ2005PTC011820

Company & Directors' Information:- P.P. INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U31102PB2007PTC030883

Company & Directors' Information:- G I INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15312PB2010PTC033806

Company & Directors' Information:- K F AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01132PB1998PTC021937

Company & Directors' Information:- S R V E INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U03210TZ2006PLC012577

Company & Directors' Information:- T K M AGRO LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01119TZ2000PLC009159

Company & Directors' Information:- J R AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15342UP1982PTC005792

Company & Directors' Information:- AMP INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = L51909AS1985PLC002332

Company & Directors' Information:- H. V. R. INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U27100DL2010PTC200428

Company & Directors' Information:- B M AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1992PLC049988

Company & Directors' Information:- R S AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15319DL1998PTC097025

Company & Directors' Information:- S N T AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01122DL1997PTC086925

Company & Directors' Information:- M S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01403WB2011PTC163653

Company & Directors' Information:- S K K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01110DL2007PTC163157

Company & Directors' Information:- D D AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U24219PB1999PLC022487

Company & Directors' Information:- P N AGRO PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U01401WB1992PTC056261

Company & Directors' Information:- V AND S INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1990PTC039251

Company & Directors' Information:- B R V AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15139UP2007PTC034299

Company & Directors' Information:- P B INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U29120MP1994PTC008840

Company & Directors' Information:- A M INDUSTRIES LTD [Active] CIN = U21012WB1977PLC030854

Company & Directors' Information:- A AND S INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17117DL1995PTC064137

Company & Directors' Information:- A A AND A AGRO LIMITED [Converted to LLP] CIN = U01111DL1986PLC025101

Company & Directors' Information:- S S D AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15100MH1998PTC113744

Company & Directors' Information:- U K INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U24241WB1988PTC044355

Company & Directors' Information:- B. P AGRO INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15132DL2019PTC357421

Company & Directors' Information:- V T INDUSTRIES PVT LIMITED [Active] CIN = U29150WB1985PLC039217

Company & Directors' Information:- G R INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U34300PB1996PTC018671

Company & Directors' Information:- M. K. INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15549WB2008PTC130116

Company & Directors' Information:- M Y AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51221DL2011PTC215043

Company & Directors' Information:- D G INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U36942WB1946PTC013526

Company & Directors' Information:- B M INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17000MH1997PTC109621

Company & Directors' Information:- H M B INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U24297GJ1996PTC070418

Company & Directors' Information:- K B R INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U27107DL1996PTC079915

Company & Directors' Information:- B N INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U67120AS1994PTC004273

Company & Directors' Information:- S. A. A INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01549TZ1997PTC007927

Company & Directors' Information:- S. A. B. INDIA AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01403UP2009PLC038365

Company & Directors' Information:- A C T INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1984PTC018724

Company & Directors' Information:- C J INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U25209MH1998PTC116707

Company & Directors' Information:- N P INDUSTRIES LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U15549PB1989PLC009426

Company & Directors' Information:- U K AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15114UP2003PTC028107

Company & Directors' Information:- H R D AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15490PB2006PTC030412

Company & Directors' Information:- R. K. AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U15410WB2012PTC180269

Company & Directors' Information:- C F L AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01409KA2001PTC028797

Company & Directors' Information:- R J AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15311KA2005PTC035485

Company & Directors' Information:- S O I AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15310GJ2010PTC059966

Company & Directors' Information:- L K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15140MH1998PTC115185

Company & Directors' Information:- V G INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15139JK2015PTC004570

Company & Directors' Information:- H D AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01111MH1996PTC097451

Company & Directors' Information:- P C L AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1992PTC049537

Company & Directors' Information:- S N INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U29211UP1951PTC002319

Company & Directors' Information:- A S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1989PTC040467

Company & Directors' Information:- S N N AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01114JH2016PTC008919

Company & Directors' Information:- R R S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15139DL2010PTC209756

Company & Directors' Information:- S I P AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01403WB2012PLC188362

Company & Directors' Information:- AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U51101KA1962PTC001475

Company & Directors' Information:- S. S. AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15490PN2013PTC146574

Company & Directors' Information:- D. J. AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01112DL1994PTC057414

Company & Directors' Information:- G A AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01229KL2002PTC015736

Company & Directors' Information:- M K B AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01100MH1996PTC101802

Company & Directors' Information:- T D K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U29190BR1991PTC004486

Company & Directors' Information:- S G AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01122KA1995PTC017091

Company & Directors' Information:- J J AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15130MH1980PTC023302

Company & Directors' Information:- A R AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1992PTC050526

Company & Directors' Information:- AGRO INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01407AR2013PTC008381

Company & Directors' Information:- U & V AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01403TZ2015PTC021823

Company & Directors' Information:- B A B AGRO LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U24231MH1993PLC073114

Company & Directors' Information:- G S AGRO INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U01132WB1990PTC049960

Company & Directors' Information:- C P INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U29303MP1949PTC000846

Company & Directors' Information:- D V AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1993PTC051892

Company & Directors' Information:- B A B AGRO LTD [Active] CIN = U24233WB1987PLC043179

Company & Directors' Information:- B C M AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01119WB1999PTC090308

Company & Directors' Information:- K. K. AGRO PVT. LTD. [Strike Off] CIN = U51420WB1987PTC042090

Company & Directors' Information:- H & W AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01400MH2012PTC238144

Company & Directors' Information:- K D AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Converted to LLP] CIN = U15312DL2005PTC131996

Company & Directors' Information:- A TO Z INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U31908AS1987PTC002804

Company & Directors' Information:- H R AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01119PB1995PTC016403

Company & Directors' Information:- C K N AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01300KL2020PTC064742

Company & Directors' Information:- P AND G AGRO INDUSTRIES P LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U99999UP1985PTC007509

Company & Directors' Information:- R. K. G. S. AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15100UP2017PTC097391

Company & Directors' Information:- A Q AGRO PVT LTD [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U51209WB2006PTC109930

Company & Directors' Information:- S E AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U52500AP2016PTC103446

Company & Directors' Information:- S U B AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U24129PN2000PTC015404

Company & Directors' Information:- G G INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U27320UP1969PTC003282

Company & Directors' Information:- K S INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U31909MH1960PTC011707

Company & Directors' Information:- A S G AGRO LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01119HR2004PLC035459

Company & Directors' Information:- T & T AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01132WB1999PTC090368

Company & Directors' Information:- C L AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74120UP2012PTC051898

Company & Directors' Information:- P M S AGRO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U29211PB1994PTC014448

Company & Directors' Information:- R K I INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U29190DL2012PTC233413

Company & Directors' Information:- R K INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U25202AS1988PTC003132

Company & Directors' Information:- B R K AGRO PRIVATE LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U29211PB1994PTC014302

Company & Directors' Information:- R E I AGRO LTD. [Active] CIN = U01111WB1994PLC065082

Company & Directors' Information:- V G AGRO INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01400DL1993PLC051666

Company & Directors' Information:- S G R INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U25199WB1948PTC016397

Company & Directors' Information:- P & S AGRO INDIA LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01403MH2011PLC214782

Company & Directors' Information:- D N D AGRO (INDIA) LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01403PN2011PLC139235

Company & Directors' Information:- L C A AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01112UP2005PTC029657

Company & Directors' Information:- V M G AGRO INDIA LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01100MP2011PLC026434

Company & Directors' Information:- K R INDUSTRIES INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U25190KA2012PTC062367

Company & Directors' Information:- G D AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U24122UP1993PTC015164

Company & Directors' Information:- P B AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Amalgamated] CIN = U26960MH1990PTC057137

Company & Directors' Information:- R A P AGRO INDIA PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U14200WB2006PTC107514

Company & Directors' Information:- I B INDUSTRIES LTD. [Strike Off] CIN = U28992WB1990PLC050469

Company & Directors' Information:- J M INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U05002UP1952PTC002456

Company & Directors' Information:- A K S INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U27201WB1946PTC013433

Company & Directors' Information:- G T AGRO INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74899DL2005PTC142577

Company & Directors' Information:- F AND K AGRO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U29248PN1980PTC022759

Company & Directors' Information:- T S AGRO INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U15209UP1987PTC008974

Company & Directors' Information:- E M AGRO (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U02001UP1997PTC022261

Company & Directors' Information:- J S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01300PB1993PTC013943

Company & Directors' Information:- A N AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01119DL1996PTC081855

Company & Directors' Information:- V R L AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U85110KA1999PTC024717

Company & Directors' Information:- B AND P AGRO INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01110MH1972PTC015574

Company & Directors' Information:- V N R INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U21090AP2012PTC081525

Company & Directors' Information:- P. S. R. AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U24248UP1974PTC004017

Company & Directors' Information:- O N AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1988PTC031986

Company & Directors' Information:- P V R K AGRO INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U01119AP1988PTC008395

Company & Directors' Information:- K R S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01400PN2011PTC141711

Company & Directors' Information:- J K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74900PY2011PTC002548

Company & Directors' Information:- W B S AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01122PB2003PTC025879

Company & Directors' Information:- K R P AGRO INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U01110MH1991PTC062304

Company & Directors' Information:- G T M AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01100MH2005PTC150816

Company & Directors' Information:- S. B. INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74900PN2012PTC144181

Company & Directors' Information:- A & P INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U36935TG2014PTC095781

Company & Directors' Information:- B S B INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U45200TG2013PTC088059

Company & Directors' Information:- Y K AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Converted to LLP and Dissolved] CIN = U74999DL2013PTC250398

Company & Directors' Information:- N P M AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15494DL2011PTC214942

Company & Directors' Information:- B L B AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U51200DL2012PTC244511

Company & Directors' Information:- D A AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74900DL2015PTC288168

Company & Directors' Information:- D. B. AGRO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01100MP2010PTC025035

Company & Directors' Information:- U K J INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U21094DL2020PTC370720

Company & Directors' Information:- O S INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U40109PN2021PTC197839

Company & Directors' Information:- S V INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U27104WB1960PTC024715

Company & Directors' Information:- M A INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U15412WB1950PTC019030

Company & Directors' Information:- NATIONAL INDUSTRIES PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U51109WB1938PTC009457

Company & Directors' Information:- INDUSTRIES INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U60200BR1946PTC000035

Company & Directors' Information:- NATIONAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1943PLC007506

Company & Directors' Information:- NATIONAL INDUSTRIES LTD. [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1949PLC007203

Company & Directors' Information:- V B C INDUSTRIES LTD. [Not available for efiling] CIN = U99999AP2000PTC910431

    Consumer Case No. 198 of 2012

    Decided On, 18 March 2021

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. ANUP K THAKUR
    By, PRESIDING MEMBER

    For the Appearing Parties: Sachin Dutta, Jipsa Rawat, Dinesh Sharma, Om Prakash Poddar, Kishore Rawat, Advocates.



Judgment Text

The complainant, M/s. P.P. Agro Industries, is a proprietorship firm registered as a small scale industry in Maharashtra engaged in the manufacture and sale of pulses. It began production in 1999. The nature of its business is to purchase raw material, "Toor", from various markets in Maharashtra and Gujarat etc. and sell the finished product, "Toor Dal", in the local market and nearby states. It has a factory located in its own building at C-19, MIDC, Latur, Maharashtra.2. The complainant had taken an insurance policy for the period, 8.7.2009 to 7.7.2010, for a sum insured of Rs. 2.57 crore; this was renewed with effect from 8.7.2010 to midnight of 7.7.2011 for an enhanced sum insured of Rs. 5 crore (policy no. 271401/11/10/3100000951 dated 8.7.2010 at Annexure C-3). The breakup of the sum insured was as follows: Building - Rs.37,00,000/-, plant/machinery and accessories - Rs.40,00,000/-, stock and stock in process- Rs.4,23,00,000/-.3. A fire broke out around 2.30 a.m. on 18.4.2011 in the factory premises. Police Station, Tehsil office, Food Inspector, Electrical Inspector and the Financial Authority i.e. Janata Sahakari Bank, Pune, Latur were all intimated as was the office of OP3- Branch Manager, National Insurance Company, Latur. Fire was brought under control by the fire brigade who submitted their report (Annexure C-4). Police authority drew up panchnama on 19.4.2011. So did the tehsil authority and the damage reported was estimated to be Rs.2.03 crore. FIR, statements, panchnama, are at Annexure-C-5. Heavy losses were suffered by the complainant firm as submitted in Annexure-C-6. A claim for Rs.1,98,54,102/- was submitted to the opposite party (OP hereafter).4. Op appointed M/s. J.C. Bhansali & Co. Surveyor & Loss Assessor, Pune who visited the complainant on 20.04.2011. Documents sought were supplied by the complainant on 5.5.2011. The cause of fire was described as "due to short circuit or dust explosion" in the claim form initially submitted. It is alleged in the complaint that the surveyor, Shri J.C. Bhansali, in collusion with the Branch Manager, Latur, OP3, had told the representatives of the complainant to insert "spontaneous combustion" in place of "dust explosion", in the claim form. Ultimately, on 22.2.2012, OP informed the complainant that loss assessed on account of damage to the building was Rs.93,263/-, to plant and machinery, Rs.3,00,000/-; as for the insurance claim pertaining to stock, OP held that it was not covered under the policy for the reason that the proximate cause of loss was spontaneous combustion. This consumer complaint is in respect of this part of the claim, seeking the following reliefs:"A. Hold that the Respondents are guilty of the deficiency of service and unfair trade practice and have thereby violated the relevant provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986;B. To pay a sum of Rs.1,98,54,102/- on account of damages and compensation/loss of properties.C. To pay a sum of Rs.50,00,000/- on account of mental agony and harassment.D. To pay a sum of Rs.5,00,000/- on account of litigation expenses.E. To pay a sum of Rs.1,00,00,000/- on account of business losses, loss of goodwill due to delay in settlement of claims.F. To pay a sum of Rs.50,00,000/- (Rupees fifty lakhs only) to the Complainant on account of loss and suffering suffered by the Complainant due to shutting down of total business of the Complainant permanently which was only due to the nonpayment by the respondents.G. To pay the interest @ 18% on the compensation w.e.f. the date of fire i.e. 18.4.2011 till the date of actual payment / realization / damages.H. Any other relief/reliefs to which the Hon'bleCommission deem fit and proper in the present facts and circumstances of the case may also be granted in favour of the complainant and against the respondent company.5. Ops resisted through a written version. It was argued that there was no cause of action to file the complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 1986 as there was no deficiency in service or delay in settlement of the claim by the OPs; that the claim was examined and decided per the insurance cover, its terms and conditions and the recommendation of the independent licensed surveyor. The claim had been approved for Rs.3,93,263/- in respect of building and plant & machinery. It had however been rejected qua loss of stock of "dal" on account of the cause of fire being "spontaneous combustion" which was excluded in the Fire and Special Peril Policy. The complainant had not opted for "add on cover to also cover the incidents of spontaneous combustion". It was stated that in the claim form itself, the cause of loss had been stated to be "due to short circuit or dust spontaneous combustion". Electrical short circuit per report of the electrical surveyor obtained by the OP had been ruled out. The argument therefore was that short circuit having been ruled out, and the cause of loss having been given as spontaneous combustion by the complainant itself, it was clear that the complainant had not been able to substantiate any other cause of loss. As such, the rejection of the claim towards loss of stocks as per policy was justified.6. Rejoinder to the written version and affidavits of evidence by both the parties were filed. Oral arguments of the counsels for the parties were heard on 18.02.2021.7. Learned Senior Advocate for the complainant drew attention to the claim form first submitted to the OP by the complainant to point out that in this, it had been clearly indicated in the relevant column that the cause of fire was "due to short circuit or dust explosion" (page 99 of part 1). Subsequently, upon request by the surveyor, the complainant was made to alter this to "due to short circuit or dust - spontaneous combustion" (page 123 of part 1). He then drew attention to the final survey report dated 11.11.2011 (Annexure-R6), where under "Summary of Loss", the surveyor had estimated the same to be Rs.78,93,263/-. This comprised loss against stock at Rs.75,00,000/-, against machinery at Rs.3,00,000/-, against building at Rs.93,963/-, and firefighting expenses of Rs.9301/-, adjusted for policy excess of Rs.10,000/-.He submitted that the complainant had accepted this estimated loss; however, the OP vide letter dated 22.2.2012 offered only Rs.3,93,263/- against loss for building, plant and machinery, explaining that as per the survey report, the proximate cause of loss was spontaneous combustion and the policy did not cover that peril.8. Flowing from above, the learned Senior Counsel made the following points:(i) if it is the case that the proximate cause of loss being spontaneous combustion meant that loss of stock was not covered under the policy, then there would have been no occasion for the OP to have allowed loss for damage to building and plant and machinery as well.(ii) clause (I) of the Standard Fire and Special Perils Policy reads as: "Fire" Excluding destruction or damage caused to the property insured by (a) (i) its own fermentation, naturally heating or spontaneous combustion...". A plain reading of this would reveal that damage by fire and loss sustained due to this fire could not be avoided by the OP even if the cause of fire was spontaneous compensation. Therefore, even if it is conceded that the cause of fire was spontaneous compensation, the OP cannot escape it's liability. This is so because ultimately, the loss was due to fire. In support, he invoked a decision of the five member Bench of the National Commission in the case of Murli Agro Products Ltd. versus Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. in OP No.253 of 1999 dated 10.12.2004 wherein it had been held that whether the cause of fire was spontaneous combustion or not was irrelevant as long as there was a fire. He however also submitted that the survey report had not categorically found that fire was due to spontaneous compensation. His argument was that even if this had been the case, the OP was still liable.(iii) He drew attention to letter dated 22.12.2011 (Annexure - R8): in response to a query of the OP about the exact cause of loss after checking from the State Electricity Board as to whether during the night of the fire incident, electrical supply inside the factory shed was on or off, the surveyor has replied "we can try to ascertain". So, the surveyor had not given a finding but only an assurance that he would try. Counsel's argument was that clearly the OP was unwilling to accept the findings of the final survey report and was raising queries probably with a view to ultimately arriving at a decision to repudiate the claim. He further argued that as to the cause of fire, it has been also observed by the surveyor in its report that sample sent for lab analysis to Sri Venkatesh Food Laboratory had revealed no presence of petroleum products; as such, any possibility of the fire having been caused due to this reason was also not established. Yet, the fact was that there was a fire. So, the argument that if there was a fire which had caused a loss, the cause of fire itself was not so important and that the loss would have to be indemnified under the insurance policy.9. Learned counsel for the OPs submitted that the decision of National Commission in the case of Murli Agro Products Ltd. versus Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2005) 1 CPJ 1 (NC) (supra) had taken into account two other decisions of the National commission viz. Saraya Sugar Mills Ltd. Vs. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (1996) 2 CPJ 6 (NC) and Roshan Lal Oil Mills Ltd. Vs. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2005) 1 CPJ 1 (NC). He pointed out that in each of these judgments, it was the case that the complainant had taken additional insurance cover for spontaneous combustion; however, in the matter in hand, no additional cover had been taken. This therefore was a distinguishing factor. In these cases, he pointed out, if the argument of the learned counsel for the complainant that fire was what would decide the admissibility of the insurance claim is accepted, then there would not have been any need to have taken any additional cover for spontaneous combustion. Therefore, he argued, since additional cover for spontaneous combustion had not been taken in the instant case, the citations referred to by the counsel for the complainant did not support the case of the complainant.10. Learned Counsel for OP then also drew attention to Clause (1) of the Standard Fire and Special Perils Policy (page 289), reading out the same again, to argue that it clearly stated that what was covered was "Fire" but excluding destruction or damage caused to the property insured by "its own fermentation, naturally heating or spontaneous combustion". He stated that nothing could be clearer than this which has to be taken to mean that fire due to spontaneous combustion is not covered under the policy, in view of the fact that additional cover for this has not been taken by the complainant. Admittedly, additional cover for spontaneous combustion was neither asked for by the complainant nor given by the OP.11. He then drew specific attention to the two claim forms on record filed by the complainant after the incident, at pages 99 and 123 of the paper book (also referred to by the counsel for the complainant). He submitted that the first claim was on 5.5.2011 and the second on 2.6.2011. Pointing out that none of these claim forms had any date mentioned under the claimant's signatures, he submitted that OP admitted receiving the second claim form of 2.6.2011 only. What this means is that the reason for the fire stated to be "due to short circuit or dust explosion" stated in the first claim form was not received by the OP; what was received was the second claim form in which the reason for fire has been stated to be "due to short circuit dust - spontaneous combustion". He further pointed out that there is some visible overwriting and deletion in the second claim form No.2. While there is nothing to show that this correction was at the surveyor's behest as argued by the counsel for the complainant, it did show that the complainant did make the correction to include spontaneous combustion as a possible cause of fire. And what this meant therefore was that the complainant itself admitted that the cause of fire may have been spontaneous combustion. In other words, as far as OP is concerned, the cause of fire was spontaneous combustion and this was not covered in the insurance policy. On this valid basis, the claim was repudiated on 22.2.2012. Prior to repudiation, learned counsel pointed out to a letter dated 16.02.2012 of the complainant to the Manager, National Insurance Company Limited, Latur: this mentioned that complainant had received information that OP was citing spontaneous combustion as the reason for declining the insurance claim. Learned counsel argued that in this letter, it could have been mentioned by the complainant that the change in the reason for fire from "short circuit and dust explosion" to "short circuit and spontaneous combustion", was at the behest of the surveyor. It was not. Therefore, to take the plea of the surveyor's inference in the claim form now served little purpose.12. The next leg of the OP's counsel's argument was that notwithstanding that the complainant had itself cited spontaneous combustion as a possible cause of fire, the cause of fire still had to be determined viz. dust explosion, electrical short circuit or spontaneous combustion? He argued that it has been explained clearly in the OP's synopsis of arguments as to why a dust explosion could not have been the cause of fire. Further, report of the electrical engineer (page 54 and 55, part-1) has clearly reached the conclusion that "however, wire board was not burnt at the spot and as is circumstantial evidence are not available at the spot, so it cannot be fairly said that short circuit has taken place on that stocks". Since, argued the counsel, the cause of fire was neither dust explosion nor spontaneous combustion, OP accepted that it must have been spontaneous combustion. He drew attention to the electrical survey report dated 2.5.2011 to show that the surveyor had concluded that the fire was not due to short circuit. Thus, argued the learned counsel, it did appear that the OP justifiably did not allow the claim against loss of stocks : since spontaneous combustion was mentioned as the cause of fire in the claim form of the complainant and as both dust explosion and short-circuit had been ruled out, the reason for fire had to be spontaneous combustion. Drawing attention to general condition no. 6 of the insurance policy, sub clause (a) and (b) thereof, he argued that this provides that the insured should submit a claim in writing for the loss or damage as well as provide information on any matter determining the liability. Since the complainant had himself mentioned spontaneous combustion, the counsel submitted, in fact it was not even necessary for the surveyor to have had gone beyond this while making it's report.13. Coming to the survey report, learned counsel, referring to the discussion therein on "Cause of Fire", submitted that the surveyor has concluded that cause of fire was not due to short circuit and that as per the insured complainant, the cause of fire could be spontaneous combustion, and that in the relevant policy, spontaneous combustion add on cover is not opted for, and hence, cause of fire is by a peril not covered under the policy. Counsel further submitted that on this final survey report, the OP had sought clarifications as a good, conscientious insurance company should. Vide letter dated 22.12.2011, surveyor had responded to the queries of the OP in a detailed manner. In this response, to the query on the observation that the State Electricity Board report was unusual as it had neither accepted nor denied the loss due to electrical short circuit and therefore whether the surveyor could check from the board as to whether during that night, electrical supply inside the factory shed was on or off, the surveyor had stated in his reply that "we can try to ascertain". This did not mean, as had been argued earlier by the counsel for the complainant, that the surveyor had not reached the conclusion that the cause of fire was spontaneous combustion. OP had sent another query to the surveyor who vide reply dated 6.2.2012 had again clarified the cause of fire and had gone on to further point out that the oil content in the dust/dal & other storage conditions viz. hot climatic condition, existence of humidity, lack of ventilation in the place of origin of fire, on the day of loss (on 18.4.2011), would have definitely caused spontaneous combustion. Learned counsel for the OP submitted that it was only after obtaining all these clarifications from the surveyor that the OP finally part-repudiated the claim vide its letter dated 22.2.2012 stating therein that the policy did not cover the peril of "spontaneous combustion" and that hence, the assessment of loss was only Rs.3,93,263/-, comprising Rs.93,263/- towards building and Rs.3,00,000/- for damage to plant and machinery. Learned counsel submitted that it would be clear that this part repudiation by the OP was done responsibly and with due application of mind.14. Learned counsel for the OP further submitted that to the argument that if the loss on account of fire due to spontaneous combustion was not covered in the policy, why was the OP permitting loss to building and plant and machinery, the answer was simple viz. that which is affected by spontaneous combustion has been disallowed and that which was affected by fire only has been allowed.15. Learned Senior Counsel for the complainant made a rebuttal. He argued that in the judgment in the case of Murli Agro Products Ltd. versus Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. (supra), it has been clearly held that if the damage to the property is because of "fire, for any reason", there is insurance coverage. So, even assuming that the fire was due to spontaneous combustion, the claim for damage to stocks was admissible just as for damage to building and plant and machinery. However, it is also his argument that it has not been found by the surveyor that the cause of fire was indeed spontaneous combustion, the same being only an inference after excluding other causes such as short circuit. Finally, he argued that the Tariff Advisory Committee, the insurance sector's own body who advise on tariffs, has clearly held that "dal" was not a substance prone to spontaneous combustion. This also explains why the complainant had not asked for an add on cover for spontaneous combustion.16. Having heard the learned counsels and carefully perused the record, I am of the considered view that the insurance claim filed by the complainant and the loss to stocks of "Toor Dal" as assessed by the surveyor deserves to be allowed, and that the OP insurance company has committed an error in appreciation of the terms and condition of the insurance policy in not allowing this claim. Reasons for this view follow.17. Admitted facts not being in dispute, clearly, this complaint is mainly about two issues: (i) was the cause of fire which caused loss to the insured's property (buildings, plant & machinery, stocks),due to spontaneous combustion?; (ii) whether the loss to the stocks of "toor dal" due to this fire was covered by the insurance policy regardless of the cause of fire? The latter is the more important issue for disposal of this consumer complaint.18. It is useful at this stage to have a very close look at the relevant policy provisions. Clause (I) of the policy, mentioned and relied upon by both the learned counsels during their arguments, reads as below:I "Fire Excluding destruction or damage caused to the property insured byi) its own fermentation, natural heating or spontaneous combustionii) its undergoing any heating or drying process."**********A plain reading of the policy reveals that what has been unambiguously insured is damage to the insured property on the happening of its destruction or damage by any of the perils specified in the policy, the first of which has been reproduced ad verbatim above viz. I. FIRE. It is clear that any damage or loss to the property by the occurrence of FIRE is liable to be the subject of lawful claim of insurance. What is meant by the sentence in the policy starting with "Excluding " is precisely what it says viz. if there is destruction or d

Please Login To View The Full Judgment!

amage by its own fermentation, natural(ly) heating or spontaneous combustion, then this would not be covered under the policy. This cannot be construed to mean that destruction to property by happening of a fire, understood as fire in common parlance, visible, obvious to the naked eye, would stand excluded because the cause of fire was found to be spontaneous combustion.19. It is precisely this which has been articulated clearly by the Commission in it's order in the case of Murli Agro Products Ltd. versus Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.(supra), para 13 (a) thereof, which reads as below:"13. For the reasons stated hereinafter we are not inclined to take any different view:(a) Firstly, undisputedly, if the damage to the property is because of the 'fire, for any reason', there is insurance coverage. The exclusion clause does not provide that loss or damage caused by fire on account of spontaneous combustion is excluded. Reading the term as it is, it can be held that what is excluded is loss or damage caused by spontaneous combustion which may or may not cause fire or flame.20. A reasonable interpretation of the policy clause under discussion above would be that any damage caused due to spontaneous combustion, in which, visible fire has not occurred, would be covered by insurance only if an additional cover by paying extra premium had been taken for spontaneous combustion. This however cannot be taken to mean that damage caused due to fire per se would stand excluded if the origin of such fire lay in spontaneous combustion. Origin of Fire would be quite immaterial as long as the factum of Fire was not in dispute and the factum of damage and loss of property was established. Perhaps the only exception to this would be an allegation of arson: however, in the case in hand, there is no such allegation.21. In view of the discussion, this consumer complaint is allowed with the following directions:(i) OP shall pay Rs.78,93,263/-, the net loss assessed by the surveyor, along with simple interest of 9% p.a. from the date of repudiation of the claim till the date of payment;(ii) This order shall be carried out within three months of date of its receipt.22. In the facts of the case, there shall be no order as to costs which parties may themselves bear.
O R