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Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., New Delhi v/s Vijay Kumar J. Mehta

Company & Directors' Information:- THE ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = U66010DL1947GOI007158

Company & Directors' Information:- TO THE NEW PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U72900DL2006PTC235208

Company & Directors' Information:- MEHTA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74140MH1940PTC003063

Company & Directors' Information:- THE NEW INSURANCE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U66010UP1933PLC000509

Company & Directors' Information:- THE ORIENTAL COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = U67120WB1935PLC094079

Company & Directors' Information:- H M MEHTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17100MH1949PTC007647

Company & Directors' Information:- A. KUMAR AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U19201UP1995PTC018833

Company & Directors' Information:- ORIENTAL COMPANY LIMITED [Not available for efiling] CIN = U70101RJ1935ULL000047

Company & Directors' Information:- VIJAY INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U25199DL1998PTC096860

Company & Directors' Information:- S KUMAR & CO PVT LTD [Not available for efiling] CIN = U51909WB1946PTC014540

Company & Directors' Information:- S KUMAR AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Converted to LLP] CIN = U45203DL1964PTC117149

Company & Directors' Information:- ORIENTAL INDIA LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U51226WB1983PLC036505

Company & Directors' Information:- KUMAR (INDIA) PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U51909WB1986PTC041038

Company & Directors' Information:- C V MEHTA PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U65910GJ1941PTC000367

Company & Directors' Information:- H G MEHTA AND COMPANY P LTD [Active] CIN = U63040MH1993PTC073575

Company & Directors' Information:- P KUMAR & CO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U27105WB1998PTC087242

Company & Directors' Information:- MEHTA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U17100MH1948PTC006191

Company & Directors' Information:- KUMAR L P G PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U23201DL2001PTC113203

Company & Directors' Information:- VIJAY J AND K PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U52100GJ1974PTC002504

Company & Directors' Information:- A. S. MEHTA AND PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74994GJ2018PTC101733

Company & Directors' Information:- J M MEHTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U65990MH1943PTC004082

Company & Directors' Information:- S M MEHTA AND COMPANY PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U51900MH1947PTC005879

Company & Directors' Information:- B L AND CO NEW DELHI PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1968PTC004910

Company & Directors' Information:- K L MEHTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74999MH1934PTC002212

Company & Directors' Information:- M KUMAR AND CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U18101DL1982PTC014823

Company & Directors' Information:- ORIENTAL CORPN PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U51909GJ1937PTC000133

Company & Directors' Information:- MEHTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51990MH1990PTC056818

Company & Directors' Information:- R S MEHTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51397MH1943PTC003891

Company & Directors' Information:- B N KUMAR & CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U52341WB1941PTC010643

Company & Directors' Information:- NEW INDIA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U36999TN1940PTC001776

Company & Directors' Information:- I.N. INSURANCE COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U67200DL1994PTC062554

Company & Directors' Information:- INSURANCE OF INDIA LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U67200WB1936PLC008634

Company & Directors' Information:- R J MEHTA PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U51900MH1990PTC058901

Company & Directors' Information:- G MEHTA AND COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1930PTC001648

Company & Directors' Information:- D VIJAY AND COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1933PTC002056

Company & Directors' Information:- ORIENTAL CORPORATION LIMITED [Not available for efiling] CIN = U99999MH1937PTC002741

Company & Directors' Information:- KUMAR INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1943PTC004030

Company & Directors' Information:- MEHTA AND CO. LIMITED [Not available for efiling] CIN = U99999MH1947PLC007552

Company & Directors' Information:- MEHTA CORPORATION LIMITED [Active] CIN = U99999MH1948PLC006192

    Revision Petition No. 240 of 2012

    Decided On, 04 January 2021

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC


    For the Petitioner: Abhishek Kumar, Advocate. For the Respondent: Nemo.

Judgment Text

1. Under challenge in this Revision Petition No. 240 of 2012 is the impugned order of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra, Circuit Bench Nagpur (State Commission, hereafter), in F.A. No.A/06/1401 dated 21.09.2011. Vide this order, the State Commission had partly allowed the appeal. The impugned order reads as below:“1. Appeal is partly allowed.2. Impugned order is modified as under:-i. The claim of the complainant is partly allowed to the extent of Rs.5.00 lacs.ii. Since, admittedly the complainant has already received the amount of Rs.2,52,700/- from the appellant/O.P., appellant/o.p. is directed to pay the balance amount of Rs.2,47,300/- to the respondent with interest @ 9% p.a. w.e.f. 17.03.2001 till realization of entire amount.3. No order as to cost.4. Copy of this order be supplied to the parties.”2. This revision petition was heard on 23.12.2020. It was decided to proceed in the absence of any representation by a counsel or in person, on behalf of the respondent/complainant (complainant hereafter) as it was noted from the record that after 29.8.2019, no one had appeared for the complainant. On that date, a last and final opportunity had been given to the complainant to submit written synopsis of arguments. This also however was not submitted as per report of the Registry. In such circumstances, it was decided to go ahead with the disposal of this revision petition.3. Very briefly, the facts are that the complainant has a business of processing of all kinds of dal(s), in the name and style of M/s Ashok Dal & Oil Mill, M.I.D.C. Amravati. Two insurance policies, one for stock of all kinds of pulses, channi, bhusa and processed dal and the other for machineries and accessories, both valid from 19.5.2000 to 18.5.2001, had been purchased by the complainant from the petitioner/Opposite Party- Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. (OP hereafter). On 17.12.2000, at about 8.40 p.m., a fire occurred in the factory premises. The fire brigade was immediately informed; they rushed and put out the fire; as this process involved throwing of water to extinguish the fire, the stocks suffered damage. The OP was also intimated on the same day. A report was also filed on 18.12.2000 with the local police station who prepared a spot panchnama on the same date. A report was issued by the fire brigade department on 1.6.2001 which, apart from noting loss of toor dal etc., also estimated the probable loss to be Rs. 4 lakh. The police spot panchnama dated 18.12.2000 mentioned that pulses and processing machine were completely damaged, and that in all 220 bags i.e. 220 quintal toor dal was completely burnt etc. and estimated the loss at Rs.5.5 Lakh. An insurance claim was lodged with the OP who, vide letter dated 29.12.2000, requested the complainant to submit all relevant documents. Delay in submission of these documents was acknowledged by the complainant and these were produced only by 22.3.2001. Thereafter, the surveyor, vide letter dated 22.3.2001, asked the complainant to submit remaining documents and these were submitted immediately with the request to settle the claim before 31.3.2001. On 20.7.2001, the complainant was informed that the surveyor had settled his claim for Rs.2,52,700/-. Copy of surveyor’s report however was not given to the complainant. With this letter dated 20.7.2001, OP had also sent a discharge voucher of Rs.2,52,700/-. Per the complaint, this discharge voucher was initially not accepted; however, OP was subsequently intimated vide letter of 23.7.2001 that the complainant would accept the amount due to it’s financial crisis. On 10.08.2001, the complainant received a registered letter from the OP with a cheque of Rs.2,52,700/-, and with a letter stating that the complainant had signed the discharge voucher on 20.7.2001 and the cheque was being released in full and final settlement in favour of the complainant. The complainant immediately issued a registered letter to the OP intimating that the amount was being accepted under protest. Per the complaint, the total loss sustained was Rs.7,70,000/-. The complainant had received only Rs.2,52,700/- on 10.8.2001. As such, per the complaint he was entitled to Rs.5,27,300/-, this being the balance. However, this claim was restricted to Rs.5,00,000/- (Rs. 5 Lakh) in order that it came within the jurisdiction of the District Forum.4. The complaint was resisted through a written reply by the OP. Preliminary objection challenging the locus standi of the complainant, Mr. Vijay J. Mehta, was raised on the ground that it was partnership firm and therefore, Mr. Mehta in his individual capacity could not have filed the claim. It was further submitted that Shri L.D. Gupta, surveyor, was appointed, without any delay, on 18.12.2000. He visited the spot on the same date, requested for relevant documents, sent a reminder letter dated 29.12.2000; however, requirements of the surveyor were met only by 22.3.2001; as such, the assessment of loss on the basis of stock statement etc. could be carried out by the surveyor only from 24.3.2001. Surveyor completed his report in the last week of June 2001 and submitted its report on 2.7.2001. He assessed the loss of stock due to fire at Rs.2,39,925/-, and loss to machinery at Rs.13,089/-, making the total assessed loss Rs.2,53,014/-. On this basis, OP immediately wrote to the complainant that the claim had been approved for Rs.2,52,700/-, sending the discharge voucher for joint signatures of the complainant and the financer, Central Bank of India, towards full and final settlement of the claim. The said voucher was duly signed and discharged on 26.7.2001. It is claimed by the OP that a copy of surveyor’s report was made available to the partner of the complainant firm and it was only after their satisfaction that they issued a receipt for Rs.2,52,700/- towards full and final settlement dated 26.7.2001. It is the case of the OP that, in these facts and circumstances, the complainant firm was estopped from any further pursuit of the present complaint; that the OP had not committed any act of deficiency as the claim had been processed and settled as per the surveyor’s report and as such, the complaint deserved to be dismissed with cost.5. District Forum, Amravati, vide order dated 6.6.2006, allowed the claim of Rs.5 lakh, making it clear that it was over and above the amount of Rs.2,52,700/- which had already been paid to the complainant. This amount of Rs.5 lakh was to carry interest at 9% p.a. from 17.3.2001 till the date of District Forum’s order. Cost of Rs.2,000/- was also to be paid by the OP to the complainant. All these payments were to be made within 30 days from the date of receipt of the District Forum’s order failing which OP would be liable to pay 10% interest p.a. till final payment.6. The State Commission disposed off the appeal against this order vide its order dated 21.9.2011 (supra). Hence, this revision petition.7. As already noted earlier, there was no appearance on behalf of the complainant. Learned counsel for the petitioner/OP therefore presented his arguments in the revision petition which were heard on 23.12.2020. The learned counsel submitted his arguments.First, the report of the surveyor was made on 02.07.2001; complainant was informed vide letter dated 20.7.2001 about the amount approved at Rs.2,52,700/-, along with discharge voucher for being discharged jointly by the complainant and Central Bank of India and the same was duly discharged on 26.7.2001.Second, it was only after around 15-20 days that the complainant, vide letter dated 10.8.2001, registering it’s protest that the complainant had accepted only due to financial crises and illegal tactics of OP to send a cheque of Rs.2,52,700/- by Registered A.D.. He emphasized that a plain reading of this letter would show that the complainant was merely stating that he had accepted the amount because of financial crisis etc., but had nowhere alleged that there was any fraudulent design or any pressure by the OP in this regard. He argued that if a protest had to be made, it ought to have been made immediately or soon after, certainly not after 15-20 days.Third, he argued, referring to the order of the District Forum, that the only substantive reasoning adopted by the complainant was that the three reports of fire brigade, police and it’s own representation of loss seemed to have been ignored by the surveyor. He argued that the surveyor was a professional and that such a view of the surveyor’s report was untenable and unacceptable. He further argued that it should be obvious that the reports of the fire brigade (assessing the loss at Rs.4 lakh) and the police panchnama (assessing the loss at Rs.5 lakh) were at the complainant’s instance. Complainant’s own assessment was for Rs.7.2 lakh. As such, there were three estimates of loss in the complaint. The surveyor, after investigation, with proper reasoning and logic, had arrived at the figure of loss at Rs.2,52,700/-. He drew attention to the complaint itself and submitted that upon a plain reading of paras 8 to 12, it would be clear that the complainant had offered no reasoning for the loss of Rs. 7.20 lakh claimed, other than describing the communication that took place with the OP, followed by the prayer to allow the complaint. In fact, while the complaint has mentioned that the total loss sustained was Rs.7,70,000/- and he had received Rs.2,52,700/- on 10.8.2001, and therefore, was entitled to recover the balance, he was restricting the claim to Rs.5 lakh only in order to come within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Forum. Learned counsel argued that this itself would show that the complainant had come to the District forum without any clarity of purpose. There was no discussion in the consumer complaint on the surveyor report as to why it was wrong and in what way.Fourth, he referred to the impugned order of the State Commission. Drawing attention to paras 15,16,17 and 19 thereof, learned counsel argued that no reasoning as such was to be found in the impugned order. He argued that the State Commission had allowed the complaint only to the extent of Rs.5 lakh as this was the amount demanded by the complainant in the original complaint, implying thereby that the amount already received be deducted and only the balance amount of Rs.2,47,300/- to the complainant be paid, with interest @ 9% p.a. with effect from 17.3.2001 till realization. His simple argument was that there was no basis argued or stated in the impugned order which would justify the view ultimately taken by the State Commission.8. After hearing arguments and carefully perusing the record, it has to be said that the fora below have apparently erred in not giving due importance to the report of the surveyor, without any reasons to explain why they did so.9. Admittedly, the complainant had two valid insurance policies on the date the fire took place. It is also an admitted fact that there was some delay by the complainant in supplying the documents asked for by the surveyor. The surveyor submitted it’s report on 2.7.2001 and the OP, within a few days, made an offer of settlement of the claim vide letter dated 20.7.2001. With this letter, the discharge voucher was sent; the same was duly signed by the complainant and the Central Bank of India, after which, payment vide cheque was sent to the complainant. The letter of protest against this payment of Rs.2,52,700/-, was sent 15-20 days after signing of the discharge voucher. This delay has not been explained at all by the complainant. This clearly shows that it was in the nature of an afterthought. As pointed out by the learned counsel, in the letter dated 10.8.2001,

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vide which the complainant informed the OP that it had accepted discharge voucher under protest, because of its own financial crisis, no allegation as such was made against the OP. Clearly, the delay had therefore to do with the complainant itself. The sequence of dates vis. fire on 17.12.2000, production of documents to the surveyor on 22.3.2001 by the complainant i.e. after almost three months, the surveyor’s report ready on 2.7.2001, offer of settlement on 20.7.2001 and discharge of settlement cheque sent thereafter, does not reveal any deficiency in service on the part of the OP.10. A perusal of the surveyor report shows that it has been prepared with due diligence based on reasoning and logic. If the complainant had any issue with the surveyor report, it would have been expected that it would present some cogent and reasoned arguments. As discussed earlier, no reasoning to support the claim presented of over Rs. 7 lakh or to counter the surveyor report has been offered, even in the consumer complaint itself. This point has been eloquently made by the counsel for the OP during the arguments. I entirely agree.11. In view of the discussion above, this revision petition is allowed. The order of the State Commission, as also of the District Forum, is set aside. No order as to costs.