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Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited Through Its Manager, Maharashtra v/s Banshiram Bishnoi

Company & Directors' Information:- TATA AIG GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = U85110MH2000PLC128425

Company & Directors' Information:- GENERAL INSURANCE CORPORATION OF INDIA [Active] CIN = L67200MH1972GOI016133

Company & Directors' Information:- GENERAL INSURANCE CORPORATION OF INDIA [Active] CIN = U67200MH1972GOI016133

Company & Directors' Information:- MAHARASHTRA CORPORATION LIMITED [Active] CIN = L71100MH1982PLC028750

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

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

    Revision Petition No. 2360 of 2019

    Decided On, 04 September 2020

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, MEMBER

    For the Petitioner: Amit Kumar Singh, Advocate. For the Respondent: ----

Judgment Text

This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited challenging the order dated 24.07.2019 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Jaipur (in short the State Commission) in first appeal No. 304 of 2009.

2. Brief facts of the case are that the respondent complainant got his truck insured for the period 31.12.2012 to 30.12.2013 with the petitioner insurance company. On 20.01.2013, a sudden sound came from the vehicle and the vehicle caught fire due to short circuiting which completely damaged the vehicle. Complainant immediately informed about the same to the insurance company and lodged a FIR also. Complainant took the vehicle to service center and got it repaired for Rs.19,33,150/-. The insurance company in January 2014 refused to give the claim amount stating that the complainant intentionally lighted the truck. Aggrieved, the complainant filed a consumer complaint before the District Forum and the District Forum allowed the complaint and directed the opposite party to pay the amount of Rs.17,47,783/- along with interest at the rate 9% per annum from 25.7.2014 apart from Rs.25,000/- as compensation and Rs.5,000/- as cost of litigation. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the petitioner insurance company preferred an appeal before the State Commission and the State Commission vide the impugned order dismissed the appeal of the opposite party.

3. Hence, the present revision petition.

4. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner at the admission stage. He states that the fora below have not considered the report of the expert investigator appointed by the insurance company. He further states that the preliminary surveyor has not ruled out arson. The final surveyor has given a report in favour of the complainant assessing the loss on repair basis to be Rs.17,47,783/-. However, the expert investigator appointed by the insurance company has given a clear report stating that the reason of fire given by the complainant is not correct as there may be multiple reasons for such a fire and even arson is not ruled out. Learned counsel further states that the District Forum has not considered appropriately the report of the investigator observing that he visited the spot after 10 months, therefore, the correct finding cannot be arrived at. Both the fora below have accepted the report of the final surveyor and have allowed the amount of Rs.17,47,783/- along with interest @9% per annum from 25.07.2014. The State Commission has not considered the report of the expert investigator and has summarily rejected the appeal filed by the insurance company.

5. We have carefully considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner and perused record. It is seen that both the fora below have given concurrent finding of facts and have not accepted the report of the expert investigator. Both the fora below have accepted the report of the final surveyor and the loss assessed by him. In fact, District Forum has observed the following in respect of the report of the Investigator:-

“The opposite party insurance company received the report of a forensic science expert about 10 months after the vehicle was set on fire, final survey conducted by spot surveyor and Shri Laxminarayan Vyas, Surveyor, not based on direct inspection dated 19.06.2013, and it is based on photographs taken and reports prepared. In such a situation, forensic science specialist Dr S R Singh’s report is of no special importance that the fire in the vehicle was not caused by an electric short circuit. The said expert has only expressed his opinion. There is no definite conclusion in his report as to what caused the fire. The opposite party also conducted ‘Insurance Auxiliary Services’ in relation to this fact, the report dated 06.03.2013 is obtained. In this report, the final conclusion that has been given after research, it has been mentioned that “own damage claim of the vehicle no. RJ 07 GB 1302 seems genuine and further vehicle owner told us that no one was injured in the said accident hence they have registered in the Daily Diary of police station Shri Dungarh”.

6. It is also seen that the State Commission has also observed the following:-

“The contention of the appellant before the Forum below was that claim has not been arisen out of accident. Reliance has been placed on the opinion of Forensic report who has inspected the spot on 02.10.2013 whereas incident has taken place on 20.01.2013 meaning thereby that after about ten months of the incident spot was inspected and it is clear from the report that till then the vehicle was dismantle and only on the basis of the photographs of the vehicle opinion has been made which has rightly been considered and rejected by the Forum below. Per contra the investigator was of the opinion that damage is genuine one. In view of the above, the contention of the appellant is not acceptable. The forum below has rightly allowed the claim on the basis of assessment of the surveyor”.

7. It is true that the report of the surveyor is not the final word however, there must be sufficient and cogent evidence to dismiss the same. Both the fora below have not relied upon the evidence and the proof relied upon by the expert investigator. This Commission cannot reassess the facts against the concurrent findings given by the fora below as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mrs Rubi (Chandra) Dutta vs M/s United India Insurance Co. Ltd., 2011 (3) Scale 654 wherein the following has been observed:-

“23. 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 than 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 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 findings of two fora.”

8. In the present revision petition, we find that the petitioner has challenged mainly the findings based on the evidence by the fora below. In fact, we do not find any cogent and effective piece of evidence filed by the investigator to convince us to dismiss the report of the final surveyor. The learned counsel has emphasized on the credibility and expertise of the investigator, however, we are of the view that the decision is required to be based on the evidence.

9. The District Forum has passed an order for paying the loss assessed by the surveyor viz Rs.17,47,783/- along with 9% per annum interest from 25.07.2014. We feel that in the present interest scenario, the interest of 9% per annum is on a high side, particularly when there is no express clause in the policy in this regard. Therefore, we deem it appropriate to reduce the rate of interest from 9% per annum to 6% per annum. We are conscious that we have not issued any notice to the respondent in this matter to save the parties fr

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om further litigating and from incurring further expenses in the litigation. 10. Based on the above discussion, we do not find any merit in the present revision petition. However, we reduce the rate of interest from 9% per annum to 6% per annum and we confirm the order of the District Forum with this modification. If the respondent feels aggrieved by this order, he can approach this Commission by filing a Miscellaneous Application in this revision petition. Accordingly, revision petition no.2360 of 2019 stands disposed of. 11. Learned counsel for the petitioner is ready to deposit the entire amount as per this order with the District Forum within a period of four weeks from today. Hence, the District Forum shall not take any coercive action till four weeks. Obviously, this interim order will lapse at the end of the fourth week.