Prem Narain, Presiding MemberThe present revision petition has been filed by the petitioner – M/s TATA AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd., challenging the order dated 22.08.2014 passed by the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Madurai Bench (‘the State Commission’) in First Appeal no. 474 of 2012.2. The brief facts of the case are that the petitioner had insured the vehicle of the respondent/ complainant under Commercial Package Policy No. 0140001273 with effect from 29.01.2011 to 28.01.2012. The vehicle was registered as a commercial vehicle with registration no.TN 69A CO279. The vehicle also had a permit of contract carriage. On 27.07.2011 the said vehicle met with an accident and was damaged in a collision with an on-coming lorry. On 29.08.2011 intimation was given to the insurance company about the accident. The insurance company appointed a surveyor to assess the loss. The claim was however, repudiated by the insurance company vide their letter dated 07.09.2011 on the ground that the driver of the vehicle at the time of accident was not having an effective and valid driving licence to drive a transport vehicle. It is stated in the repudiation letter that this was the violation of the Driver Clause mentioned in the policy which reads as under:“Provided that the person driving holds an effective driving licence at the time of accident and is not disqualified from holding or obtaining such a licence;Provided also that the person holding an effective learners licence may also drive the vehicle and that such person satisfies the requirements of rule 3 of the central motor vehicle rules, 1998.”3. Aggrieved by the repudiation, the respondent/ complainant filed a consumer complaint no.101 of 2011 on 08.11.2011 before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Tuticorin (‘the District Forum’). The District Forum allowed the complaint as under:“10. In the result, the complaint is allowed and the opposite party is directed to pay Rs.2,90,362/- towards the insurance amount to the complainant and to pay Rs.20,000/- as compensation for the mental agony and sufferings caused to him and to pay Rs.5,000/- towards cost of the proceedings within a period of two months from the date of this order, failing which the complainant is at liberty to execute this order under section 25 and 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986”.4. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the petitioner insurance company preferred an appeal before the State Commission and the State Commission vide its order dated 22.08.2014 has dismissed the appeal.5. Hence, the present revision petition.6. Heard the learned counsel for both the parties and perused the record. Learned counsel for the petitioner/ insurance company has stated that the vehicle was registered as a commercial vehicle and was also insured as a commercial vehicle under the commercial package policy. Thus, the driver of the vehicle was supposed to have an endorsement on his driving licence for driving a transport vehicle. This condition is specifically mentioned in the driver clause of the policy. The driver at the time of the accident was holding an ordinary Light Motor Vehicle (in short ‘LMV’) licence which did not have any endorsement to drive the transport vehicle. The District Forum and the State Commission both have taken the view that at the time of the accident, the vehicle was being used by the owner of the vehicle in a private capacity and was not being used as a commercial vehicle on hire. The learned counsel has argued that when it is registered as a commercial vehicle/ transport vehicle, the driver is always supposed to drive the vehicle holding a licence which would have an endorsement for driving a transport vehicle. In support of her argument, the learned counsel for the petitioner has referred to the judgment of this Commission in the case of New India Assurance Co. Ltd., vs B Satyajit Reddy and Anr., I (2011) CPJ 132 (NC) decided on 21.09.2010, wherein this Commission has clearly held that the view taken by the State Commission that the vehicle was being used as a private vehicle at the time of accident was not correct and the driver was supposed to have an endorsement on his driving licence to drive the transport vehicle. It has been held that for driving a transport vehicle, a specific authorised licence was a statutory necessity. This Commission had allowed the revision petition of the insurance company.7. On the basis of this judgment, the learned counsel emphasised that in the present case, the driver was not having a valid and effective driving licence to drive a transport vehicle and therefore, the claim was rightly repudiated by the insurance company. Both the fora below have taken a wrong view and have erroneously allowed the insurance claim on the ground that the vehicle was being used by the owner as his personal/ private vehicle at the time of the accident.8. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondent/ complainant has stated that the driver was having LMV driving licence to drive the vehicle and at the time of accident the owner of the vehicle was also present in the vehicle as his family was using the vehicle for their personal use and therefore, there was no requirement of any endorsement on the driving licence of the driver at that time. As the vehicle was being used as a private vehicle at the time of the accident, the LMV licence of the driver was sufficient and was the effective licence at the time of the accident. Both the fora below have given a concurrent finding and the scope under the revision petition is quite limited as the facts cannot be reassessed by this Commission. Both the fora below have found that the driver was holding an effective driving licence at the time of the accident because the vehicle was being used as a private vehicle and not as a commercial vehicle.9. We have carefully considered the arguments advanced by both the learned counsel for the parties and have examined the material on record. It is seen that the repudiation of the claim is on the ground that the driver of the vehicle was not having an effective driving licence at the time of accident. The argument of the insurance company is that the vehicle was registered as a commercial vehicle and was also insured under the Commercial Package Policy, therefore the driver was supposed to have an endorsement on his driving licence to drive the transport vehicle as held by this Commission in the case of New India Assurance Co. Ltd., vs B Satyajit Reddy and Anr., (Supra). Both the fora below have taken a view that the vehicle was being used by the owner of the vehicle for transporting his family members and therefore, it was not being used as a commercial vehicle at the time of accident, therefore, there was no requirement of any endorsement on the driving licence for that particular journey. This matter has been considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited – Civil Appeal no. 5826 of 2011 decided on 03.07.2017, wherein it has been categorically clarified that no endorsement is required on the LMV Licence for driving a maxicab. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:“46. Section 10 of the Act requires a driver to hold a licence with respect to the class of vehicles and not with respect to the type of vehicles. In one class of vehicles, there may be different kinds of vehicles. If they fall in the same class of vehicles, no separate endorsement is required to drive such vehicles. As light motor vehicle includes transport vehicle also, a holder of light motor vehicle licence can drive all the vehicles of the class including transport vehicles. It was pre-amended position as well the post-amended position of Form 4 as amended on 28.3.2001. Any other interpretation would be repugnant to the definition of “light motor vehicle” in section 2(21) and the provisions of section 10(2)(d), Rule 8 of the Rules of 1989, other provisions and also the forms which are in tune with the provisions. Even otherwise the forms never intended to exclude transport vehicles from the category of ‘light motor vehicles’ and for light motor vehicle, the validity period of such licence hold good and apply for the transport vehicle of such class also and the expression in Section 10(2)(e) of the Act ‘Transport Vehicle’ would include medium goods vehicle, medium passenger motor vehicle, heavy goods vehicle, heavy passenger motor vehicle which earlier found place in section 10(2)(e) to(h) and our conclusion is fortified by the syllabus and rules which we have discussed. Thus we answer the questions which are referred to us thus:(i) ‘Light motor vehicle’ as defined in section 2(21) of the Act would include a transport vehicle as per the weight prescribed in section 2(21) read with section 2(15) and 2(48). Such transport vehicles are not excluded from the definition of the light motor vehicle by virtue of Amendment Act No.54/1994.(ii) A transport vehicle and omnibus, the gross vehicle weight of either of which does not exceed 7500 kg. would be a light motor vehicle and also motor car or tractor or a road roller, ‘unladen weight’ of which does not exceed 7500 kg. and holder of a driving licence to drive class of “light motor vehicle” as provided in section 10(2)(d) is competent to drive a transport vehicle or omnibus, the gross vehicle weight of which does not exceed 7500 kg. or a motor car or tractor or road-roller, the “unladen weight” of which does not exceed 7500 kg. That is to say, no separate endorsement on the licence is required to drive a transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class as enumerated above. A licence issued under section 10(2)(d) continues to be valid after Amendment Act 54/1994 and 28.3.2001 in the form.(iii) The effect of the amendment made by virtue of Act No.54/1994 w.e.f. 14.11.1994 while substituting clauses (e) to (h) of section 10(2) which contained “medium goods vehicle” in section 10(2)(e), medium passenger motor vehicle in section 10(2)(f), heavy goods vehicle in section 10(2)(g) and “heavy passenger motor vehicle” in section 10(2)(h) with expression ‘transport vehicle’ as substituted in section 10(2)(e) related only to the aforesaid substituted classes only. It does not exclude transport vehicle, from the purview of section 10(2)(d) and section 2(41) of the Act i.e. light motor vehicle.(iv) The effect of amendment of Form 4 by insertion of “transport vehicle” is related only to the categories which were substituted in the year 1994 and the procedure to obtain driving licence for transport vehicle of class of “light motor vehicle” continues to be the same as it was and has not been changed and there is no requirement to obtain separate endorsement to drive transport vehicle, and if a driver is holding licen
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ce to drive light motor vehicle, he can drive transport vehicle of such class without any endorsement to that effect”.10. From the above observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited (Supra), it is clear that no specific endorsement is required to drive the transport vehicle of LMV class. Clearly the vehicle in question (TATA Indica DLS – BS III) was a transport vehicle under the LMV class as defined under section 2 (21) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Thus, the LMV licence of the driver was sufficient to drive the transport vehicle in question and no separate endorsement was required. We are not expressing any opinion on the view taken by the Fora below that at the time of accident, the vehicle was being used as a private vehicle and not as a commercial vehicle, however, the decision given by the fora below is definitely sustainable in the light of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited (Supra).11. Based on the above discussion, we do not find any merit in the present revision petition. Accordingly, the revision petition no. 4464 of 2014 is dismissed.