National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi

V K Jain, Presiding Member

Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd & Anr – Petitioners

Versus

Dharnidhar Sharma & Ors – Respondents

Revision Petition No. 985 of 2015                                                                                 Decided on 6th October 2015

(Against the Order dated 23.12.2014 in Appeal No. 297 of 2013 of the State Commission, Chhattisgarh)

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 – Sections 2 (g) & 23 – Vehicle Insurance – Forged fitness certificate submitted by Complainant to insurance company to obtain reimbursement of expenditure alleged to have been incurred by him on repair of vehicle – HELD – Submitted forged document to insurance company and did not disclose said forgery in complaint – Complainant not entitled to any relief through process of Consumer Forumm - Complaint dismissed.                    (Para 8)

Important Point

If a person approaches Forum/Court with tainted hands that by itself would disentitle him to any relief, irrespective of merit of his claim.

Order

1.V K Jain, Presiding Member - The Complainant/Respondent purchased a vehicle bearing Registration No. CG-16A-1268 and got the same insured with the Petitioner company for the period from 12.10.2011 to 11.10.2012.  The aforesaid vehicle met with an accident on 07.03.2012, during subsistence of the policy. On intimation being given to the insurer, a surveyor was appointed, who carried an inspection of the accidental vehicle. The Complainant, thereafter, allegedly took the vehicle to a workshop and paid a sum of Rs. 2,12,950 on its repair.  The insurance company, however, repudiated the claim on the ground that the vehicle did not possess the requisite fitness certificate at the time it met with an accident.  Being aggrieved, the Complainant approached the concerned District Forum by way of a complaint seeking compensation of Rs. 2,12,950 along with an interest, etc.

2.The complaint was resisted by the insurance company and it was stated in the reply that as against the permit to carry 32 passengers + 1 driver, the vehicle was carrying 40 passengers at the time it met with the accident.  It was further stated in the reply that though the surveyor appointed by the insurance company had assessed the loss to the Complainant at Rs. 1,80,156, his claim was rightly repudiated on account of gross violation of policy terms and conditions by the Complainant. It was also stated in the reply filed by the insurance company that on investigation, their investigator revealed that the fitness certificate submitted by the insurer did not pertain to vehicle in question but it pertained to another vehicle bearing Registration No. CG-15AB-0221 and thus, the vehicle in question did not have a fitness certificate on the date it met with the accident.

bVide its order dated 22.03.2013, the District Forum directed the insurance company to pay a sum of               Rs. 1,35,117 to the Complainant as compensation along with interest @ 6% p.a. and also awarded                 Rs. 4,000 towards mental and physical agony, along with cost of litigation quantified at Rs. 1,000.

4.Being aggrieved, the insurance company approached the concerned State Commission by way of an appeal. The said appeal having been dismissed, the Petitioner company is before this Commission by way of this Revision Petition.

5.A perusal of the report of Anup Mehta, investigator appointed by the insurance company, shows that a fitness certificate bearing No. 5940 was provided by the Complainant to the insurance company to satisfy it that the vehicle carried a valid fitness certificate at the time it met with the accident. The investigator Anup Mehta made inquiry in this regard from RTO, Ambikapur, by whom the aforesaid fitness certificate was purported to have been issued. It was certified by RTO, Ambikapur that the aforesaid fitness certificate - Serial No.5940 was issued by them for vehicle bearing No.CG15/AB-0221 on 25.01.2012 and was valid for a period of two years.  It was further stated in the said certificate that on the contrary to the photocopy presented to them, they had not issued any fitness certificate bearing Serial No.5940 dated 25.01.2012 in respect of vehicle bearing Registration No.CG16A-1268.

6.It is thus evident that a forged document was submitted by the Complainant to the insurance company in order to obtain reimbursement of the expenditure alleged to have been incurred by him on repair of the vehicle.  It is settled legal proposition that a person approaching a Court/Form must come with clean hands and disclose all material facts whether available or not available to him.  If a person approaches the Forum/Court with tainted hands that by itself would disentitle him to any relief, irrespective of the merit of his claim.  The Complainant/Respondent tried to deceive the insurance company and play a fraud upon it by submitting a forged fitness certificate.  The submission of a forged document itself was sufficient to reject the claim lodged by the Complainant.  In the complaint filed before the District Forum, the Complainant did not admit that he had submitted a forged fitness certificate to the insurer.  Thus, he did not approach the District Forum with clean hands.

7.The District Forum and the State Commission totally ignored the fact that a forged fitness certificate was submitted by the Complainant in order to obtain reimbursement from the insurance company.  Instead of submitting a forged document, the Complainant should have fairly admitted that he did not have a valid fitness certificate in respect of vehicle in question at the time it met with the accident. That having been done, the complaint is liable to be dismissed on this ground alone.

8.The learned counsel for the Complainant relied upon the decision of Kerala High Court in Augustine Versus Ayyappankutty, (2015 (2) T.A.C. 768), where despite the failure of the owner of the vehicle to obtain renewal of the fitness certificate, the claim was allowed by Kerala High Court.  A perusal of the judgment would show that this was a case of third party claim and not a case of the insurer himself being the claimant. In the case before Kerala High Court, a person was knocked down by the vehicle owned by the Appellant and the claim was preferred by his legal heirs under the provisions of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.  The owner of the vehicle, who is primarily responsible for getting the fitness certificate renewed well in time cannot be treated at par with a third party victim such as the Respondent before Kerala High Court. In any case, having submitted a forged document to the insurance company and not disclosed the said forgery even in the complaint filed before the District Forum, the Complainant, in my view, is not entitled to any relief through the process of Consumer Forum.

9.For the reasons stated hereinabove, the impugned orders are set aside and the complaint is consequently dismissed with no order as costs

 

 

 

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