This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Piara Ram against the order dated 21.07.2017 passed by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh (‘the State Commission’) in First Appeal no. 141 of 2017.
2. The brief facts of the case are that the vehicle (Cab Marka Tempo Traveller) of the petitioner bearing no. PB 01 5345 was insured with the respondent/ insurance company for period 14.12.2014 to 12.12.2015. During the currency of the policy (Policy no. 401803/31/14/6300009732) the said vehicle met with an accident on 11.12.2015. A surveyor was appointed by the insurance company who assessed the loss at Rs.76,065/-. Complainant submitted a bill for Rs.1,64,000/- as an insurance claim, however, the insurance company denied the claim vide its letter no. 745 dated 12.07.2016 on the ground that the policy conditions were violated.
3. The complainant then filed a consumer complaint no.85 of 2016 before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (‘the District Forum’). The insurance company contested the complaint and stated that the claim was not payable as there was no endorsement in the driving licence of the driver for driving a commercial vehicle.
4. The District Forum however, allowed the complaint and directed the insurance company to pay Rs.1,64,000/- with damages of Rs.5,000/- and litigation expenses of Rs.3,000/-.
5. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the insurance company preferred an appeal being FA no.141 of 2017 before the State Commission.
6. The State Commission accepted the appeal vide its order dated 21.07.2017 and dismissed the complaint on the ground that there was no endorsement on the driving licence of the driver for driving a commercial vehicle (maxicab).
7. Hence the present revision petition.
8. Heard the learned counsel for both the parties and perused the material on record. Learned counsel for the petitioner has stated that the State Commission has wrongly observed that an endorsement was required on the driving licence of the driver to drive a maxicab. In fact, no such endorsement is required and a normal LMV driving licence is sufficient to permit a person to drive a maxicab. The learned counsel further stated that the State Commission has relied on the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of New India Assurance Co. Ltd., vs Prabhu Lal – 2008 (1) RCR (Civil) 198 as well as the provision of Rule 7 of “Rent a Cab Scheme 1989” of the Punjab Government wherein it is mandated that the driver of a maxicab will have an endorsement on his driving licence for driving a maxicab. Learned counsel has argued that the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in New India Assurance Co. Ltd., vs Prabhu Lal (Supra) is in respect of transport vehicle and not specifically on the maxicab. Similarly, the provision of rule 7 of the scheme is against the judgment of 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 licence to drive light motor vehicle, he can drive transport vehicle of such class without any endorsement to that effect”.
9. On the other hand the learned counsel for the respondent insurance company stated that the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited (supra) is now being reviewed by a larger Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of M/s Bajaj Alliaance General Insurance Co. Ltd., vs Rambha Devi and Ors., in Civil Appeal no.841 of 2018 as would be clear from the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 03.05.2018 wherein the following has been observed:
“While the counsel have referred to various other provisions of the Act and the Rules, we have only referred to a few, very significant submissions. Since, the prayer is for the reconsideration of Mukund Dewangan (supra), we are of the view that it is only appropriate that the prayer itself, in light of some of the submissions we have noted above, be considered by a larger Bench of three Judges”.
10. Learned counsel for the respondent has further stated that if the claim of the petitioner is allowed, the same can only be allowed to the extent of loss assessed by the surveyor which is Rs.76,065/-. The District Forum has wrongly allowed the total claim submitted by the complainant and has ignored the report of the surveyor without any basis. The surveyors are appointed under the provisions of the Insurance Act, 1938 and their report cannot be brushed aside without any cogent reasons. No reasons have been given by the District Forum for not accepting the report of the surveyor. Hence, if the claim has to be settled the same can only be settled on the basis of the report of the surveyor.
11. I have carefully considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the parties and examined the record. The question of the endorsement has been settled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited (Supra). This is the currently ruling judgment even though the review by a larger bench has been recommended. Learned counsel for the respondent/ insurance company has informed that there is no stay of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited (Supra). Hence, in the interest of speedy justice, I would like to rely on the above judgment in the case of Mukund Dewangan vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited. As per this judgment, there is no requirement of endorsement for driving a maxicab on the LMV licence. The objection of the State Commission on the basis of the provisions of the “Rent a Cab Scheme” is also not valid, once, there is no legal requirement for having the endorsement on the LMV Licence for driving a maxicab.
12. Clearly, on the basis of the above discussion, the petitioner/ complainant is entitled to get the insurance claim. When the surveyor has been appoin
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
ted by the insurance company and the surveyor has submitted his report wherein damage has been assessed at Rs.76,065/-, the insurance claim is to be settled on the basis of the surveyor’s report only unless there are cogent reasons to reject the same. The District Forum has not considered the report of the surveyor and has not given any specific reason for not considering or rejecting the same even though the opposite party had mentioned in their written reply submitted before the District Forum that if the Forum reaches to a conclusion to allow the insurance claim, the liability of the insurance company should be limited to a maximum of Rs.76,065/- which is the loss assessed by the surveyor. In my view, the petitioner’s claim can only be settled at Rs.76,065/- which is the loss assessed by the surveyor. 13. Based on the above discussion, the revision petition no. 3377 of 2017 is partly allowed and the respondent insurance company is directed to pay Rs.76,065/- along with interest @ 6% per annum from the date of District Forum’s order, i.e., 09.01.2017 till the actual payment.