1. This writ petition is directed against the judgment and award dated 04.11.2019 (Annex.9) passed by the Permanent Lok Adalat, Jodhpur Metro, ('PLA') whereby the PLA has accepted the claim of the respondent, quashed the order dated 11.07.2017 issued by the petitioner-Company and has held that the respondent is entitled to a sum of Rs.8 Lakh alongwith interest from the date of application alongwith costs of Rs.10,000/-.
2. The respondent herein, inter-alia, filed application before the PLA with the submissions that she had purchased the Bus No.RJ19-PA-4529 after taking loan, the physical verification of the vehicle was done by the insurance company and the same was insured for a sum of Rs.8 Lakh; premium of Rs.31,478/- was paid and a policy for the period from 13.02.2015 to 12.02.2016 was issued. It was indicated that on 19.11.2015, the insured bus, which was operating on Borunda-Jaitaran route, developed some snag, whereby the passengers were shifted to other vehicle and the bus was parked on corner of the road and was locked. On the next day, where at 5:30 am when husband of the respondent with the mechanic went to the site, the vehicle was not there, the same was stolen, her husband on 20.11.2015 registered an FIR with Police Station Anandpura Kalu. It was clarified that the date of registration of report is indicated as 06.12.2015, whereas the respondent had lodged the report on 20.11.2015 and had informed the office of the petitioner through mobile and had produced the requisite documents without any delay.
3. The final report was given by the police on 30.12.2015, however, after 11/2 years, the insurance company required the respondent to produce the fitness certificate and to indicate the reasons for delay in the FIR, the respondent immediately produced fitness certificate and informed that the FIR was lodged on 20.11.2015, however, by order dated 11.07.2017, the claim of the respondent was rejected indicating that the vehicle was parked on the road without any security and there was delay in lodging the FIR. In the petition it was claimed by the respondent that the FIR was lodged on 20.11.2015, however, the police registered the same on 06.12.2015, for which she was not responsible.
4. Based on the above submissions, the claim to the tune of Rs.8 Lakh alongwith compensation of Rs.30,000/- alongwith interest was claimed.
5. The application was contested by the petitioner Insurance Company denying the claim made by the respondent alleging that the FIR was lodged after 16 days of the incident and as such, the condition No.4 of the insurance policy was clearly violated. Despite explanation for the delay being asked from the respondent, the same was not produced. Allegations were also made that the story of the vehicle having been stolen may have been concocted and consequently, it was prayed that the application be rejected.
6. The PLA after hearing the parties, came to the conclusion that the report was got typed on 20.11.2015 and the same was produced before the police station, which has been registered by the police officer after 16 days and therefore, it cannot be said that there was any delay in lodging the report. The PLA also observed that normally, in case of theft, the police on lodging the FIR keeps the same with it and thereafter, tries to search the vehicle and once, it is not found then the report is lodged, which appears to be the case. The date indicated in the typed report was emphasized by the PLA, reference was also made to the report published in the news-paper. Whereafter, relying on the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Om Prakash v. Reliance General Insurance & Anr.,2017 CPJ 10 (SC), it came to the conclusion that the rejection of the claim on account of delay in lodging the FIR was not justified and passed the award as noticed hereinbefore.
7. It is submitted by learned counsel for the petitioner that the PLA was not justified in accepting the claim of the respondent, inasmuch as, the policy condition was very specific requiring the lodging of FIR with the police and cooperate with the petitionerCompany, however, from the material available on record, it is apparent that the respondent did not lodge the FIR immediately, inasmuch as, from the document Annex.-3 produced by the respondent, it is apparent that the same was lodged by the police on 06.12.2015 at 1:20 pm, whereas the vehicle as per the claim of the respondent was stolen on 19.11.2015, which indicates a wholly unexplained delay and therefore, on account of violation of the policy condition, the insurance company was justified in rejecting the claim made by the respondent.
8. It was submitted that merely because the FIR indicated the date 20.11.2015, the PLA wrongly inferred that the FIR was presented on 20.11.2015 and that the same was lodged with the delay by the police and therefore, the order impugned deserves to be quashed and set-aside.
9. It was submitted that the law in this regard is very clear where on account of the violation of the policy conditions the liability of the insurance company would come to an end.
10. Reliance was placed on judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sonell Clocks & Gifts Ltd. v. New India Assurance Compoany Ltd., 2018 9 SCC 784 and the judgment in the case of Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr. : Civil Appeal No.653/2020, decided on 24.01.2020 was distinguished on the ground that in the said case the FIR was lodged in time and there was delay in informing the insurance company, which is not the case here. It was prayed that the award impugned be quashed and set-aside.
11. Learned counsel appearing for the respondent vehemently opposed the submissions. It was submitted that the PLA was justified in accepting the claim of the respondent herein and in passing the award impugned, which do not call for any interference. It was submitted that the respondent has produced sufficient documentary and oral evident before the PLA, to indicate the lodging of the FIR immediately and therefore, the finding recorded by the PLA in this regard does not call for any interference.
12. Further submissions have been made that the requisite policy condition has not been produced before the PLA and therefore, the PLA specifically observed the fact that condition relied on by the insurance company has not been produced and therefore, the entire argument sought to be raised pertaining to delay in lodging the FIR even otherwise has no substance. It was prayed that the writ petition be dismissed.
13. Reliance was placed on Modern Insulators Ltd. v. Oriental Insurance Co.Ltd.,2000 CPJ 1 (SC), Gurshinder Singh (supra), The Managing Director, I.C.I.C.I. Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Permanent Lok Adalat & Anr. : S.B. Civil Writ Petition No.5374/2017, decided on 06.07.2017, The Managing Director, I.C.I.C.I. Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Permanent Lok Adalat & Anr. : D.B. Special Appeal Writ No.741/2019, decided on 19.12.2019.
14. I have considered the submissions made by learned counsel for the parties and have perused the material available on record.
15. A perusal of the application filed by the respondent before the PLA would indicate that the respondent had made specific averments that the FIR was lodged on 20.11.2015 in para 4 and also specified that though the report was lodged on 20.11.2015, the same was registered by the police on 06.12.2015. The said aspect was also reiterated in para 7 of the application.
16. In response, the petitioner Insurance Company denied the said aspect and indicated that the police had registered the FIR on the date the same was presented. It was also alleged that deliberately the FIR was lodged after 16 days of the incident on 06.12.2015.
17. The insurance company though was well aware of the specific case set up by the respondent that the FIR was presented to the police on 20.11.2015 and the same was registered by the police on 06.12.2015, except for denying the said fact, no attempt was made by the petitioner Insurance Company to obtain and /or produce material to support its contention that the plea raised regarding filing of the FIR on 20.11.2015 was incorrect.
18. A bare look at Annex.3 i.e. the copy of the FIR indicates date '20.11.2015' and that the same was registered by the police on 06.12.2015.
19. The issue pertaining to delay was indicated in writing by the insurance company for the first time on 10.05.2017 Ex.-5 though a reference has been made that earlier also letter was sent requiring the explanation for delay in lodging the FIR, however, apparently there was no reason for the respondent to indicate an incorrect date in the FIR and the wrong date, if indicated, would have been objected by the police, further as till that time there was no dispute there was apparently no reason to indicate a wrong date and therefore, as the FIR bears the date 20.11.2015, the same was lodged with the police on the said date, however, the same was registered by the police with delay. The PLA, as noticed herein-before, based on its perception / experience pertaining to the delayed registering of the FIR in case of loss of vehicle has apparently come to a correct conclusion that the FIR though presented on 20.11.2015, the same was registered on 06.12.2015 and therefore, the entire basis of the insurance company for denying the claim cannot be sustained, as such the award appears to be justified.
20. So far as the judgments in the case of Sonell Clocks & Gifts Ltd. (supra) and relied on by learned counsel for the petitioner is concerned, there is no dispute regarding the sanctity of the policy conditions, however, the violation thereof has to be established by the insurance company and merely raising doubts about the noncompliance of the policy conditions for denying the claim, is not sufficient to accept the plea of the insurance company.
21. In view thereof, the reliance placed on the said judgment is of no consequence.
22. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Gurshinder Singh (supra), wherein the claim was denied on account of delay in informing the insurance company pertaining to the vehicle being stolen, came to the conclusion that the same was a hyper technical view and reiterated the judgment in the case of Om Prakash (supra) while answer a reference made on account of two conflicting judgments.
23. In case of Managing Director, I.C.I.C.I. Lombard General Insurance Company Limited (supra) in almost a similar situation when the award o
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f the PLA was challenged by the insurance company on account of delay of 17 days in informing the insurance company and 11 days in registration of the FIR the judgment rejecting the petition filed by the insurance company by the learned Single Judge, was upheld by the Division Bench accepting the plea that though the police was approached immediately, the FIR was registered with the delay. 24. In so far as, the plea raised by the respondent pertaining to the policy condition relied on by the insurance company being not before the Court is concerned, the same though appears to have some substance as the respondent had only filed the cover note and the insurance company, did not care to file copy of the complete policy before the PLA which has now been filed alongwith the writ petition. However, in view of the finding recorded by the PLA as upheld by this Court pertaining to lodging of the FIR in time i.e. no delay in this regard, the said aspect looses its significance. 25. In view of the above discussion, no case for interference in the award impugned passed by the PLA is made out. The writ petition has no substance, the same is, therefore, dismissed.