(from the order dated 5.5.06 in Appeals No.1331/05, 1363-1421/05, 1460-1597/05 and 13,19-28/06 of the State Commission, A.P.)
New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Petitioner
Uppalapati Veera Swamy & Ors. Respondents
HONBLE MR.JUSTICE M.B. SHAH, PRESIDENT
DR. P.D. SHENOY, MEMBER
For the Petitioner : Mr.Kishore Rawat, Advocate
For the Respondent : Dr.A.M.
Learned counsel, Mr.Krishna, accepts Notice on behalf of the respondent.
Heard learned counsel for
the parties exhaustively. A devastating
fire took place on 28.1.2001 at Shri Ramananjeya Cold Storage (Respondent No.2) at
As the claims were not
settled, the complainants have filed various cases before the Consumer Disputes
In this batch of Revision Petitions, the District Forum directed the insurance company to reimburse the claimants by taking into consideration the model price based on the report of the Agricultural Market Committee, Guntur at the rate of Rs.22/- per Kg. for red chillies and Rs.6/- per Kg. for white chillies. The District Forum also relied upon the report of the Agricultural Market Committee wherein it is stated that normally in a bag, the farmers are keeping chillies up to 50-55 Kgs. On the basis of the said report, the District Forum arrived at the conclusion that the insurance company shall reimburse the complainants on the basis of 40 Kgs. in each bag at the price as stated above. Details are worked out by the District Forum.
The said finding was confirmed by the State Commission with only modification with regard to the rate of interest. The State Commission reduced the rate of interest to 7.5% from 9% as awarded by the District Forum.
Against these orders, insurance company has preferred these Revision Petitions.
Prima facie, we feel that the orders passed by the District Forum and the State Commission are proper. However, to workout a reasonable solution so that remaining matters also can be finally settled without any further litigation and cost to the poor farmers, we adjourn this matter as suggested by the learned counsel for the insurance company.
Stand over to
Meantime, insurance company is directed to deposit, within a period of 3 weeks from today, with the District Forum, the loss assessed by the surveyor to the complainants with interest at the rate of 7.5%.
It would be open to the complainants to withdraw the said amount. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents states that no middlemen will be permitted to take away any amount from the amount deposited by the insurance company.
Further, insurance company is bound to follow the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Protection of Policy Holders Interest) Regulations, 2002. Those Regulations specifically provide for expeditious decision at each and every step, including in considering the proposal for insurance, issuance of the insurance policy and decision with regard to insurance claim. Regulation 9 provides claim procedure in respect of general insurance policy. Sub-Regulation (5) provides that after receipt of the survey report or additional survey report the insurer is required to offer the settlement of the claim to the insured within a period of 30 days. Sub-Regulation (6) of Regulation 9 provides that in case of delay beyond 7 days from the date of acceptance of the offer by the insured, the insurer is liable to pay interest at the rate which is 2% above the bank prevailing at the beginning of the financial year in which the claim is reviewed by it.
Hence, we observe that it would be just and proper if, without any reservation, the insurance company makes payment on the basis of the loss assessed by the surveyor with interest at the rate of 7.5% to the complainants who have approached the District Forum and that complaints are not decided for one or other reason, making it clear that this would be without prejudice to the rights of the farmers to get more on the basis of the order which we may pass in these Revision Petitions.
Further, we observe that it is the duty of the insurance company to pay the amount to the poor farmers who have lost their products in such a fire and who cannot approach the Consumer Fora due to their ignorance or want of money. After all, in the present case, insurance company is a nationalized insurance company. It is known that in such cases farmers are compelled to resort to suicide in some cases due to indebtedness. Dasti in addition.
(P. D. SHENOY)
/sra/ 8 /Court-1