At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE V.K. JAIN
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Appellant: Bhupesh Narula, Uday Singh Chauhan, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1, Mala Narayan, Neha Dawar, R2, Anuj Bhandari, Shitij Chakravarty, R3 & R4, Neerja Sachdeva, R6, Chiranjiv Kumar, Advocates, R5, Nemo.
1. This appeal is directed against the order of the State Commission dated 18.07.2018 whereby the complaint instituted by the appellant was dismissed on two grounds, the first ground being that the complaint is barred by limitation and the second ground being that the complainant is a company which was doing business for making profit.
2. On 29.10.2009 a fire broke out in the oil depot of Indian Oil Corporation at Sitapura Industrial Area, Jaipur. The show room of the complainant/appellant also suffered damages on account of the blast due to fire in IOC depot.
3. IOC had taken an umbrella insurance policy from the New India Assurance Company Limited. Claiming to be a beneficiary of the afore-said umbrella insurance policy, the complainant/appellant lodged a claim for reimbursement of the loss suffered by it. A Surveyor was appointed to inspect the site and assessed the loss. No payment, however, was made to the complainant/appellant under the umbrella insurance policy which IOC had taken from New India Assurance Company Ltd. Being aggrieved the appellant/complainant filed a Writ Petition before the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court. The Writ Petition was disposed of by the High Court vide order dated 27.05.2014 with a direction to the Insurance Company to decide the claim of the appellant/complainant expeditiously and if possible within two months from the receipt of the copy of the order. The case of the complainant/appellant is that the claim was not paid despite directions of the High Court. The complainant, therefore, approached the concerned State Commission by way of a consumer complaint seeking payment of Rs. 1,00,00,000/- from IOC and New India Assurance Company Ltd. along with interest etc.
4. The State Commission having dismissed the complaint in limine on the grounds noted hereinabove the complainant/appellant is before this Commission by way of this appeal.
5. The only questions which arise in this appeal are as to whether the consumer complaint instituted by the appellant/complainant was barred by limitation and whether the appellant/complainant was a ‘consumer’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act or not.
6. The case of the New India Assurance Company Ltd. is that the Complainant had taken an independent insurance policy from United India Insurance Company Ltd. and the said insurer had made payment of Rs. 8,70,000/- to the complainant/appellant against the said policy. The submission of the learned Counsel for IOC is that a sum of Rs.8,00,00,000/- was paid to it by New India Assurance Company Ltd. on 03.09.2015. This is also the case of IOC that the loss to the complainant/appellant was assessed at Rs. 1,06,18,843/- out of which Rs. 56,42,124/- had been received by him from RICCO to whom a sum of Rs.50,00,00,000/- was paid by IOC and Rs. 8,70,000/- were received by the complainant/appellant from United India Insurance Company Ltd. against its independent policy. It is also their case that the balance amount of Rs. 41,06,719/- was paid to IOC, but the IOC has not even made the payment of the balance amount of Rs. 41,06,719/- to the complainant.
7. In my opinion considering that according to the complainant/appellant it had suffered loss of about 1.38 crores, whereas the payment made so far to the complainant comprises Rs. 8,70,000/- received from the United India Insurance Company Ltd. and Rs.56,42,124/- received from RICCO, the claim cannot be said to be barred by limitation, the same having not been rejected either by New India Assurance Company Ltd. or by IOC. Moreover, the complaint was instituted within 2 years of the High Court order.
8. As far as the question as to whether the complainant/appellant is a ‘consumer’ or not the issue is squarely covered by the decision of this Commission in Harsolia
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Motors Vs. National Insurance Co. Ltd. I (2005) CPJ 27 (NC). In view of the said decision the complainant would a consumer qua the opposite parties/respondents. 9. For the reasons stated hereinabove, the impugned order is set aside and the complaint filed by the appellant is remitted back to the State Commission to decide the same on merits. The parties are directed to appear before the State Commission on 26.03.2020.