Monika Malik, Member
1. This appeal is directed against the order dated 08.02.2013 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Gwalior (for short the ‘Forum’) in C. C. No. 549/2012 whereby the complaint filed by the complainant/appellant has been dismissed.
2. Brief facts of the case as narrated by the complainant are that the complainant is the owner of a motor-cycle bearing registration no.MP-07 MF-7478 which was insured with the opposite party-insurance company for a period from 20.03.2010 to 19.03.2011. During the currency of the insurance cover, the complainant’s vehicle got stolen on 23.02.2011, when he had parked the same near Titan Showroom in Topi Bazar, Gwalior. The complainant had informed the police in writing on 23.02.2011, who asked the complainant to search for the vehicle in the nearby area. When the complainant could not trace the vehicle, he intimated the police and lodged FIR with the police on 28.02.2011. The complainant stated that he had also intimated the insurance company in writing on the same day i.e. on 28.02.2011 and subsequently submitted the duly filled claim form with theopposite party office on 17.03.2011. The complainant had also informed the RTO as well on 17.03.2011. It is stated that the opposite party-insurance company vide their letter dated 31.05.2012 rendered the insurance claim of the complainant’s insured vehicle as ‘No Claim’ on the ground that he had lodged FIR with the police after a period of 5 days from the date of occurrence of theft and there is delay of 22 days in informing the insurance company. Aggrieved complainant therefore, filed a complaint alleging deficiency in service on part of the opposite party-insurance company before the Forum, seeking relief.
3. The opposite party/respondent resisted the complaint stating that there is delay of 5 days in lodging the FIR in the police station and also there is delay of 22 days in intimation to the opposite party-insurance company regarding theft of vehicle which had taken place on 23.02.2011. Stating that delay in intimation is violation of the policy terms and conditions, therefore, the complainant’s claim is not payable.
4. Heard. Perused the record.
5. Learned counsel for the complainant/appellant vehemently argued that he had approached the police on the date of theft of vehicle i.e. on 23.02.2011, but they asked the complainant to trace the vehicle in nearby area. When the complainant could not trace his vehicle, he informed the police, who then lodged FIR in complainant’s matter on 28.02.2011. The appellant argued that due to the aforesaid reason FIR could be lodged after a delay of 5 days. The appellant further argued that he had intimated the insurance company along with copy of FIR accompanied with driving license and registration of the said vehicle on 28.02.2011. However, the claim form was submitted by him with the insurance company on 17.03.2011. He argued that investigator was appointed by the insurance company who verified the appellant’s claim. Police had also submitted Final report, when the vehicle could not be traced, despite efforts. The appellant also submitted Final report along with letter of subrogation and letter of indemnity to the respondent-insurance company but the respondent-insurance company repudiated the appellant’s claim merely on the ground that there was delay in intimation to the police of 5 days and to the insurance company of 22 days, regarding theft of vehicle which had occurred on 23.02.2011. He argued that if the insurance company had to repudiate the appellant’s claim on the ground of delayed intimation then the appellant should not have been asked to submit various documents including Final Report. On this basis, learned counsel argued that the impugned order deserves to be set-aside since the appellant deserves claim amount of his insured vehicle.
6. Learned counsel for the opposite party/respondent-insurance company argued that as per condition no.1 of the package policy issued to the appellant, notice shall be given in writing to the insurance company immediately upon occurrence of any incident, loss or damage. In the instant matter the appellant intimated the insurance company regarding incident of theft on 17.03.2011 whereas theft had taken place on 23.02.2011. Not only this, there is delay of 5 days in intimating the incident to the police. FIR was lodged by the police on 28.02.2011. On this account the appellant’s claim is not payable since there is violation of condition no.1 of the policy schedule on part of the appellant. He further argued that when a claim is lodged with the insurance company, then there is requirement of submission of relevant documents for processing of the claim, which the complainant/appellant was also asked to fulfill. He submits that impugned order deserves to be maintained.
7. The respondent-insurance company has denied the appellant’s claim vide their letter dated 31.05.2012 (Annexed as ‘C-2’), wherein it is mentioned that:-
YOU HAVE LODGED FIR AFTER FIVE DAYS OF THEFT AND INTIMATED TO US AFTER TWENTY TWO DAYS OF THEFT WHICH IS IN BREACH OF OUR POLICY CONDITION NO.1. HENCE CLAIM REPUDIATED.
8. The appellant has stated that he had parked his vehicle opposite Titan Showroom, Topi Bazar, Gwalior. The appellant had went to the market and when he returned after an hour, the vehicle was not found, where he had parked it. The appellant has submitted that he tried to locate the vehicle and had also enquired from the people present at the site, but he could not trace the same. The complainant had lodged the FIR in this regard on 28.02.2011. The reason for delayed intimation to the police as mentioned in the FIR is—the complainant was searching for the vehicle. The respondent-insurance company carried out an investigation in the matter subsequent to lodging of claim by the appellant. The investigation report dated 20.08.2011 prepared by an Investigator Shri R. N. Goswami has verified the appellant’s claim and found it to be genuine. The aforesaid observation is made by the investigator relying on police FIR and version of various witnesses. It has also been mentioned in the investigation report that the police could not search the vehicle despite efforts and has consequently submitted Final report in the matter.
9. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No.653 of 2020 Gurshinder Singh Vs Shriram General Insurance Company Limited & Anr, decided on January 24, 2020 in concurrence with a view taken in Om Prakash Vs Reliance General Insurance Company Limited IV (2017) CPJ 10 (SC) has held in paragraph 20 of the judgment, that:
“When the police after investigation have lodged a final report after the vehicle was not traced and when the surveyors/investigators appointed by the insurance company have found the claim of the theft to be genuine, then mere delay in intimating the insurance company about the occurrence of the theft cannot be a ground to deny the claim of the insured.”
10. We support our view from the aforesaid judgement passed in Gurshinder Singh (supra) and conclude that when the respondent-insurance company had appointed their investigator and found the appellant’s claim to be genuine, he cannot be denied benefits of the insurance claim. As regards, delay of 5 days in lodging the FIR, we find that there is a categorical submission made by the appellant that he had intimated the police on the date of occurrence of theft itself i.e. on 23.02.2011. The appellant was searching his vehicle all this while and when he could not trace the same, FIR was lodged on 28.02.2011. In the investigator report wherein the investigator has verified the appellant’s claim, the reason for delayed intimation is the only rationalization being offered against the appellant’s claim. No other ground, other than this, has been taken by the investigator appointed by the respondent insurance company. Admittedly, the police has submitted Final report in the matter. It is noteworthy that the complainant/appellant had also intimated to the RTO, vide his letter dated 17.03.2011 (Annexed as ‘C-8
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’) regarding the theft, informing them not to transfer the registration number of his vehicle, which was stolen. 11. In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of a considered view that the appellant deserves to be given insurance claim of his motor-cycle which got stolen. Therefore, the impugned order is set-aside. 12. The respondent-insurance company is thus directed to pay insured declared value (IDV) of the subject vehicle to complainant/appellant within a period of six weeks, failing which the amount shall carry interest @ 12% p.a. from the date of filing of complaint till its realization. The respondent-insurance company is also directed to pay Rs.5,000/- as compensation and another sum of Rs.3,000/- as cost of litigation to the appellant and the same shall also be payable in a period of six weeks. 13. With the aforesaid directions, this appeal stands allowed.<