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

Norbert Shaba Rego v/s Birla Sun Life Insurance Co. Ltd. & Another

Company & Directors' Information:- BIRLA CORPORATION LIMITED [Active] CIN = L01132WB1919PLC003334

Company & Directors' Information:- SUN PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U24246RJ1984PTC003093

Company & Directors' Information:- G SUN INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74899DL1995PTC071425

Company & Directors' Information:- SUN INDIA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U65991TN1943PTC000994

    Revision Petition No. 3930 of 2012

    Decided On, 04 September 2018

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC


    For the Petitioner: Sharan Thakur, Vijay Kumar, Advocates. For the Respondents: Rakesh K. Rajwania, Prateek Kasliwal, Advocates.

Judgment Text

This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Norbert Shaba Rego against the order dated 04.06.2012 of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Karnataka, (in short ‘the State Commission’) passed in Appeal No.579 of 2012.

2. Brief facts of the case are that petitioner/complainant had proposed insurance of his life under 'Dream Endowment Policy' with the OP for basic sum assured of Rs.5,00,000/- and enhanced sum assured of Rs.95,00,000/- with annual premium of Rs.1,65,277/- for a period of 20 years. After the complainant had undergone some medical examination by the authorized doctor of opposite party, the opposite party issued a policy bearing No.003921711 dated 26/04/2010 for enhanced sum assured of Rs.50,00,000/- and basic sum assured of Rs.17,73,000/-. After receipt of the policy, the complainant noted that policy was issued only for sum assured Rs.67,73,000/- instead of Rs.One Crore. Hence, he requested the opposite party No.2 to rectify the same and issue a fresh policy for Rs.One Crore. It is alleged that the Opposite Parties had agreed for the same but they have not issued the fresh policy. Thereafter, complainant got issued a legal notice to opposite parties. But the opposite parties have not complied. Hence, he felt deficiency of service on the part of opposite parties and filed the complaint. On appearance opposite party filed the version contending that complainant had submitted an application dated 04/02/2010 for insurance in his name under the 'Dream Endowment Plan' for a sum assured as Rs.5,00,000/- and enhanced sum assured for Rs.95,00,000/- with annual premium of Rs.1,65,227/- for a period of 20 years. But on 10/04/2010, complainant himself sent a consent letter for reduction of enhanced sum assured from Rs.95,00,000/- to Rs.50,00,000/-. As per offer given by the complainant, the opposite parties have revised the sum assured and issued a policy bearing No.003921711 dated 26/04/2010 with option of free look period of fifteen days through its welcome letter attached to the policy bond. It was further contended by the Opposite parties that after receipt of the policy bond, complainant had not objected within the free look period of fifteen days and did not return the bond. Since the complainant does not want to continue with the said policy, the respondent would be ready to give surrender value of the policy as per terms and conditions. Hence, there is no deficiency on their part and requested for dismissal of the complaint.

3. The learned District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Mangalore, (in short ‘the District Forum’) vide its order dated 24.01.2012 dismissed the complaint. Aggrieved with the order of the District Forum, the complainant preferred an appeal being No.579 of 2012 before the State Commission, which was also dismissed vide its order dated 04.06.2012.

4. Hence the present revision petition.

5. Heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the record. Learned counsel for the petitioner/complainant stated that the complaint of the petitioner/complainant has been dismissed mainly on two counts. First relates to an alleged letter dated 10.04.2010, wherein it has been alleged that the complainant has given consent for reducing enhanced sum assured from Rs.95,00,000/- to Rs.50,00,000/-. The second point on which the complaint has been dismissed is regarding free look period of 15 days within which, the complainant should have objected about the policy. The learned counsel stated that the complainant has been asserting that the alleged consent letter dated 10.4.2010 has not been written by the complainant. As there is a mark of cross (x) on the left side of the signature, this means that somebody has drafted the letter and sent to the signatory to put his signature at the place of (x). Clearly this could not have been done by the complainant. The original proposal form was filed for Rs.5,00,000/- as basic sum assured and Rs.95,00,000/- as enhanced sum assured. The policy received by the complainant reveals that the Insurance Company without any request reduced enhanced sum assured to Rs.50,00,000/- and increased the basic sum assured to Rs.17,73,000/-. Thus, the total policy amount becomes only Rs.67,73,000/- instead of rupees one crore, though the premium paid remained the same. The District Forum has observed that the signature on the letter dated 10.04.2010 is of the complainant without report of any handwriting expert. The State Commission has also relied upon this observation of the District Forum. When the person alleged to have signed this letter is denying this letter, on what basis the fora below have accepted this letter as a consent letter.

6. Coming to the free look period of 15 days, learned counsel for the petitioner stated that when the complainant came to know of the reduced amount of insurance, the complainant represented to the Insurance Company. But the Insurance Company did not agree to change the policy and then the complaint was filed. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is a beneficial legislation for providing better protection to the consumers and the complaint should not have been dismissed on the technical ground of free look period of 15 days.

7. On the other hand learned counsel for the respondent/Insurance Company stated that both the fora below have given concurrent finding of facts and therefore, the facts cannot be reassessed by this Commission at the stage of revision petition. The policy has been issued on the basis of the consent letter given by the complainant on 10.4.2010. The District Forum has clearly recorded that the signature of the complainant on this letter is exactly the same as in other pleadings and documents. As an afterthought, the complainant is disputing this letter. As the complainant asked for reduction in enhanced sum assured, the Insurance Company had to increase the basic sum assured from Rs.5,00,000/- to 17,73,000/- in order to keep the premium at the same level. It was further mentioned by the learned counsel for the respondent that petitioner has not denied having signed consent letter in this regard. Learned counsel for the respondent referred to the following order dated 24.01.2012 of the District Forum:-

'7. However, the contents of the above said letter, it appears that the signature of the complainant found in the consent letter and at the same time the signature found in the complaint, proposal form and other documents available on records before this FORA, wherein the signature found in the consent letter is of the same of the complainant. Further the contents of the letter reveals that, the complainant sought for reducing the enhanced sum assured from Rs.95,00,000/- to Rs.50,00,000/-. The opposite party company by acting upon the above said letter, reduced the sum assured and issued a policy as per Ex C2 i.e., policy dated 25.04.2010. Further we observe that, if at all the complainant is not interested or satisfied with the opposite parties, then definitely the complainant should have opted for free look period. As per the IRDA regulations the complainant can very well return the policy document to the opposite parties within 15 days, in such cases the opposite parties refunding the entire amount without deducting any charges. But in the instant case, the complainant not opted the same.'

8. It was further stated by the learned counsel for the opposite parties that the option of surrender of the policy is always open to the complainant. Insurance Company will pay the surrender amount if the policy is surrendered as per the terms and conditions of the policy.

9. I have carefully considered the arguments of both the parties and have examined the material on record. First of all, it is seen that both the fora below have given concurrent finding in respect of the consent letter and both the fora below have relied upon this consent letter. The scope under the revision petition is quite limited as against the concurrent finding given by the fora below. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mrs. Rubi (Chandra) Dutta vs. United India Insurance Company, 2011 (3) Scale 654, has observed:-

'Also, it is to be noted that the revisional powers of the National Commission are derived from Section 21 (b) of the Act, under which the said power can be exercised only if there is some prima facie jurisdictional error appearing in the impugned order, and only then, may the same be set aside. In our considered opinion there was no jurisdictional error or miscarriage of justice, which could have warranted the National Commission to have taken a different view that what was taken by the two Forums. The decision of the National Commission rests not on the basis of some legal principle that was ignored by the Courts below, but on a different (and in our opinion, an erroneous) interpretation of the same set of facts. This is not the manner in which revisional powers should be invoked. In this view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that that the jurisdiction conferred on the National Commission under Section 21(b) of the Act has been transgressed. It was not a case where such a view could have been taken, by setting aside the concurrent finding of two fora.'

10. Relying on the above judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, I am of the view that assertion of the petitioner/complainant that he did not send the letter dated 10.04.2010 cannot be looked into by this Commission in the light of the concurrent finding given by the fora below. There is no denial that the complainant did not object to the policy withi

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n the free look period of 15 days. Had the complainant objected during this period, the Insurance Company could have refunded the premium amount. Now that the policy has been issued and the contract has come into force, it can only be rescinded as per terms and conditions of the contract of the policy. Hence, the State Commission has rightly dismissed the appeal on these two grounds. 11. Based on the above discussion, I do not find any illegality, material irregularity or jurisdictional error in the order dated 04.06.2012 of the State Commission which calls for any interference from this Commission. Accordingly, the revision petition No.3930 of 2012 is dismissed. However, if the petitioner/complainant strongly feels that fraud has been played on him by the Insurance Company by forging letter dated 10.4.2010 being the correct letter of the complainant, liberty is granted to the complainant to avail the jurisdiction of civil court for redressal of his grievance as the consumer fora would not be competent to decide the case involving forgery and fraud.