1. This writ petition is filed by a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956, seeking to quash Ext.P8 order passed by the Insurance Ombudsman, Kochi dated 22.12.2014, whereby the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint basically for the reason that, a complaint filed by a company is not maintainable under law.
2. The sole question emerges for consideration is whether there is any illegality or arbitrariness in Ext.P8 order justifying to be interfered with under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
3. I have heard learned counsel for the petitioner Sri.L.Rajesh Narayan Iyer and the learned counsel for the respondents Smt.K.S.Santhi and perused the pleadings and materials on record.
4. The subject issue arises under the Redressal of Public Grievances Rules, 1998 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules,1998) constituted under Section 114(1) of the Insurance Act, 1938 with the intention of redressal of public grievances. As per Rule 2 of the Rules, 1998, it shall apply to all the insurance companies operating in general insurance business and in life insurance business, however the proviso makes it clear that, the Central Government may exempt an insurance company from the provisions of Rules, 1998, if it is satisfied that an insurance company has already a grievance redressal machinery which fulfills the requirements of the Rules, 1998.
5. The object of the Rules enumerated in Rule 3 shows that it is introduced to resolve all complaints relating to settlement of claim on the part of insurance companies in cost-effective, efficient, and impartial manner.
6. Rule 4(i) defines "insured person" to mean an individual by whom or on whose behalf an insurance policy has been taken on personal lines. Rule 4(k) defines "Personal lines" to mean an insurance policy taken or given in an individual capacity.
7. The Ombudsman for insurance is vested with powers under Rule 12 of Rules, 1998 to consider a complaint under Rule 13. Rule 13 delineates the manner in which the complaint is to be made. Sub Rule (1) thereto specifies that any person who has a grievance against an insurer, may himself or through his legal heirs make a complaint in writing to the Ombudsman within whose jurisdiction the branch or office of the insurer complaint against is located. Sub Rule (2) specifies that, the complaint shall be in writing duly signed by the complainant or through his legal heirs and shall state clearly the name and address of the complainant, the name of the branch or office of the insurer against which the complaint is made, the fact giving rise to complaint supported by documents, if any, relied on by the complainant, the nature and extent of the loss caused to the complainant and the relief sought for from the Ombudsman.
8. Therefore, on a reading of the aforesaid provisions of Rules, 1998, make it explicit and clear that the Rules intended complaint by an individual and not by any corporate body or any inanimate body for that matter.
9. Therefore, the question now emerges for consideration is, whether the Ombudsman has committed any arbitrariness or illegality in holding that the complaint is not maintainable under law. Admittedly, the complaint was filed by a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and the Rules, 1998, clearly excludes an inanimate body from invoking the jurisdiction of the Insurance Ombudsman. This question was considered by a Division Bench of this Court in the Insurance Ombudsman v.Indus Motor Co.P.Ltd & Ors.,2006 1 KerLJ 230 and held that, a complaint filed by a company is not maintainable before the Insurance Ombudsman invoking the provisions of the Rules, 1998, since the Rules clearly exclude a corporate body from invoking the jurisdiction under the aforesaid Rules.
10. Taking into account the said aspects I am of the cons
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idered opinion that, the petitioner was not right in contending that, the act of the Insurance Ombudsman, dismissing the complaint holding as not maintainable is not correct. 11. Needless to say, I could not locate any arbitrariness or illegality on the part of the Insurance Ombudsman in dismissing the complaint as not maintainable under law. Therefore, the writ petition has no sustenance and accordingly it is dismissed.