National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi

K S Chaudhari, Presiding Member and Dr B C Gupta, Member

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd Through Ashutosh Singh, Dy Manager  - Petitioner
Versus
K Eswara Prasad – Respondent
Revision Petition No. 2555 of 2012                                      Decided on 22-07-2013
(From the order dt.10-04-12 in Appeal No. 1227 of 2010 of the A P State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad)

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 - Sections 21(b) – Vehicle insurance – Theft of insured vehicle – Repudiation of claim – Complaint – Dismissed by District Forum – Appeal – Allowed by State Commission – Revision petition – During the period Complainant was out of station for more than 3½ months, Complainant’s wife was at home – Purposely no date had been given when the car was stolen – In such circumstances, it could be presumed that car must have been stolen long back and Complainant’s wife and his neighbour must be aware about theft of the car – No report was lodged immediately after theft and report was lodged by the Complainant only after returning back – In the case in hand, apparently there was long delay in lodging FIR and intimation to Insurance Company about theft of insured car and in such circumstances, complaint was liable to be dismissed – Complainant had not approached District Forum with clean hands and had purposely suppressed date of theft – Impugned order of State Commission held liable to be set aside. (Paras 5 to 7) - Revision Petition allowed.

 

Important Point


Where there was long delay in lodging FIR and intimation to Insurance Company about theft of insured car, in such circumstances, complaint was held liable to be dismissed.

Order

1.    K S Chaudhari, Presiding Member – This revision petition has been filed by the Petitioner/Opposite Party against the order dated 10-04-2012 passed by the A P State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 1227 of 2010 – K Eswara Prasad vs M/s Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd by which, while allowing appeal, order of District Forum dismissing complaint was set aside and complaint was allowed.


2.    Brief facts of the case are that Complainant filed complaint before District Forum and alleged that his car AP-9-TV 2927, which was insured by OP/Petitioner for a period of one year commencing from 14-10-2007 to 13-10-2008 for a sum of Rs. 2,60,000 was parked by him on 22-06-2013 in front of his house. Complainant locked the car and handed over the keys to the Complainant’s neighbour and left for Bangalore due to personal reasons. He had to stay in Bangalore for a longer period and when he returned on 4-10-2008, car was found missing. Complainant immediately lodged FIR, but car could not be traced. Complainant filed claim with the OP, but OP vide letter dated 18-03-2009 closed the claim alleging deficiency on the part of OP. Complainant filed complaint before District Forum. OP resisted claim and alleged that Complainant failed to take reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle and violated Clause IV of the policy and prayed for dismissal of the complaint. District Forum after hearing both the parties dismissed the complaint. Appeal filed by the Complainant was allowed by learned State Commission vide impugned order against which, this revision petition has been filed.


3.    Heard learned Counsel for the parties at admission stage and perused record.


4.    Learned Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that since the Complainant failed to take reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle and there was delay of more than 3 months in lodging FIR and intimation to Insurance Company, learned District Forum rightly dismissed complaint and learned State Commission has committed error in allowing appeal; hence, revision petition be allowed and impugned order be set aside. On the other hand, learned Counsel for the Respondent submitted that order passed by learned State Commission is in accordance with law, as all reasonable care was taken by the Complainant while parking car; hence, revision petition be dismissed.


5.    Perusal of record clearly reveals that car was parked by Complainant in front of his house on 22-06-2008 and keys and documents of the car were handed over by the Complainant to his neighbour. On 4-10-2008 when Complainant returned back, he did not find his car and lodged report with the police and intimated to the Insurance Company. This is not clear when the car was actually stolen. Complainant filed his own affidavit before District Forum in which, he admitted that he enquired from his wife, who remained in the house itself and neighbours and then lodged complaint at police station. From this statement it becomes clear that during the period Complainant was out of station for more than 3½ months, Complainant’s wife was at home. Complainant also filed affidavit of Alkesh Kumar who has stated in his statement that Complainant was residing in upper portion of his house and Complainant parked his car on 22-06-2008 in front of his house and returned on 4-10-2008 and found that car was missing from that place. He has also not revealed when car was stolen. It appears that purposely no date has been given as to when the car was stolen. In such circumstances, it can be presumed that car must have been stolen long back and Complainant’s wife and his neighbour Alkesh Kumar must be aware about theft of the car. No report was lodged immediately after theft and report has been lodged by the Complainant only after returning back on 4-10-2008. It is also not clear when information to OP regarding theft of car was given by the Complainant. Only copy of reminder dated 22-1-2009 issued by OP to Petitioner has been placed on record by which, reply was sought from Complainant regarding reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle. It appears that OP was also not intimated immediately. In New India Insurance Co. Ltd vs. Trilochan Jane in FA No. 321 of 2005, National Commission dismissed the claim of the Complainant on the ground of delay as theft took place on 8-4-2000, but FIR was lodged on 10-4-2000 and intimation to Insurance Co. was given on 17-4-2000. Hon’ble Apex Court in United India Insurance Co. Ltd vs. M/s Harchand Rai Chandan Lal observed that delay in intimation to Insurance Company is fatal. In the case in hand, apparently there is long delay in lodging FIR and intimation to Insurance Company about theft of insured car and, in such circumstances, complaint is liable to be dismissed.


6.    Complainant’s statement is not believable when his wife was staying at home, why keys of the car will be given to neighbour instead of his wife. He has not approached District Forum with clean hands and has purposely suppressed date of theft.


7.    Consequently, revision petition is allowed and impugned order dated 10-4-2012 passed by learned State Commission in Appeal No. 1227 of 2010 – K Eswara Prasad vs Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. is set aside and complaint filed by the Complainant is dismissed at admission stage with no order as to cost.

 

 

 

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