At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE V.K. JAIN
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioner: Ravi Bakshi, Advocate. For the Respondent: Ritesh Khare, Nikita Anand, Advocates.
The complainant obtained an insurance policy for the period from 20.07.2007 to 19.07.2008 in respect of the stock which he had kept in his shop in Umaria. A fire broke out in the shop on 21.03.2008. On intimation being given to the insurer a surveyor was appointed who visited the shop on 19.04.2008 and assessed the loss to the complainant at Rs. 179800/-. The amount was offered to the complainant but was not acceptable to him. The amount was, therefore, deposited in the account of the complainant.
2. Being aggrieved from the failure of the insurer to reimburse the him for the loss suffered by him, the complainant approached the concerned district forum by way of a consumer complaint.
3. The complaint was opposed by the insurer which inter alia stated in its reply that the surveyor had made a fair assessment of the loss and the complainant had been paid accordingly.
4. The District Fourm having dismissed the consumer complaint the complainant approached the concerned State Commission by way of an appeal. Vide impugned order dated 05.07.2012 the State Commission directed the insurer to pay a sum of Rs. 4 lacs to the complainant after deducting the amount already paid to him. Being dissatisfied with the order passed by the State Commission the insurer is before this Commission.
5. Pursuant to the liberty granted by the State Commission some additional documents were provided by the complainant whereupon the assessment was reviewed by the surveyor who vide their review report stated that the documents submitted by the complainant were not reliable and he had not been able to produce any evidence which would justify enhancement of the assessment made at the initial stage.
6. The case of the complainant is that the relevant documents had been destroyed in the fire and, therefore, could not be produced. This is also his submission that he having taken credit facilities from Satpura Regional Rural Bank stock statement was submitted by him to the said bank and those stock statement reflected the stock kept in the shop at the relevant time. This is also submitted by learned counsel for the complainant that at no stage the stock in the shop was less than Rs. 500000.
7. No evidence has been produced before the fora below to prove the date on which the stock statement were last submitted by the complainant to the bank. No much relevance can be placed upon the stock statement submitted after the incident of fire since there has always been an opportunity and an incentive to file inflated stock statements in order to claim a higher reimbursement from the insurer. Therefore, in my opinion only the stock statement which had been submitted to the bank before the incident of fire can be said to be a reliable document and should be taken as the starting point for the purpose of assessing the loss to the complainant, since the account books and supporting documents are stated to have been destroyed in the fire.
8. The impugned orders are set aside and the complainant is directed to submit to the insurer, a copy of the last stock statement which he had submitted to the bank before the incident of fire. He shall also submit statements of purchases as well as of sales made by him during the period between the date to which the above-referred last stock statement pertained and the date of the fire. For instance if the complainant had submitted the stock statement to the bank, before the incident of fire, for the period ending on 31.01.2008 the surveyor will add the purchases made from 01.02.2008 till the date of fire and he will deduct therefrom the sale made during the aforesaid period. Thereafter, he will deduct from it the value of the stock which had not been damaged during fire as well as the value of the salvage of the damaged stock. The remainder will represent the value of the stock of the complainant on the date of the fire. The purchase documents if not available with the complainant, shall be obtained by him from the persons from whom the purchase was made and shall be submitted to the insurer/surveyor. The sales will be taken as per the VAT returns submitted by the complainant to the concerned department after verification of such VAT returns through the concerned department. The invoices submitted by the complainant shall also be verified by the surveyor. The amount payable to the complainant shall be worked out in this manner and after deducting therefrom an amount of Rs 179000, already paid to the complainant, the balance, if any, shall be paid to the complainant within 6 weeks of the fresh assessment made by the surveyor. Since the order passed by the State Commission has not been challenged by the complainant the gross amount payable to the complainant i.e. the amount payable to him before deduction
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of Rs. 1,79,000/- shall not exceed Rs. 4 lakhs which was the amount awarded by the State Commission to the complainant. However, the complainant will be entitled to interest at the rate of 9% p.a. with effect from 6 weeks from the date of lodgement of the claim till the date of payment. Documents in terms of this order shall be submitted by the complainant into the insurer/surveyor within 3 weeks from today and fresh assessment shall be made by the surveyor within 3 months thereafter. Revision petition stands disposed of accordingly.