NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
REVISION PETITION NO. 532 OF 1998
(From the order dated 1.4.98 in appeal No.168/97
of the State Commission, UT Chandigarh)
K.L. Malhotra Petitioner
Oriental Insurance Co. & Anr. Respondents
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA,
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER
Insurance claim - insurer cannot hold back the amount due
as pressure tactic to get receipt of full satisfaction from insured -
such practice must stop forthwith.
For the petitioner : In Person
For the respondents : N E M O
Dated the 15th January, 2002
PER JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA, (PRESIDENT).
The matter has been called at second time. Nobody appears for the respondent. We, therefore, proceeded to hear the arguments of the petitioner who appeared in person.
Complainant is the petitioner before us. He is aggrieved by the order of the State Commission reducing the amount of compensation payable to him on account of the accident of his car which was comprehensively insured with the respondent-insurer. On a complaint filed by the complainant-petitioner, District Forum awarded him Rs.34,519.27 against the insurer and Rs.5,000/- against the respondent No.2 - opposite party No.2 for delay in delivery of the car after repairs. State Commission while upholding the award of Rs.5,000/- against the second respondent, reduced the amount of compensation that was awarded against insurer to Rs.19,268/-.
Petitioner owned a Maruti van which was insured with the respondent-insurer for the period from 8.5.90 to 7.5.91. It was involved in an accident on 9.2.1991. On the insurer being intimated, a surveyor was appointed to survey the damaged vehicle who assessed damage at Rs.20, 868/- . Vehicle was given for repairs to the second respondent who admittedly is the authorised agent of the manufacturer of Maruti vehicles for sales and service of Maruti vehicles.
Second respondent presented the complainant with a bill of Rs.37,557.27 for which he wanted reimbursement from the insurer. However, the insurer wanted to settle the claim for Rs.20,868/- which was not agreeable to the petitioner and he wrote words under protest on the receipt purported to be given in full and final settlement of the claim of the petitioner. Because of this writing, it would appear insurer did not make any payment to the petitioner. Rather by writing letter subsequently, insurer reduced the amount of compensation to Rs.19,268/-.
Alleging deficiency in service complainant approached the District Forum. It was observed by District Forum that there was no justification for the insurer to reduce the amount of compensation from Rs.20,868/- which was originally agreed to be given by it to Rs.19,268/-. It was pointed out that the second respondent was the authorised sales and service agent of the manufacturer. District Forum then took note of the argument of the insurer that depreciation has to be allowed on the value of the old parts which were replaced by new parts. Accepting that argument, District Forum arrived at the amount of compensation of Rs.34,519.27. District Forum also awarded Rs.5,000/- to the petitioner against second respondent because it delayed repair of the vehicle entrusted to it. We find the order of the District Forum to be well considered one.
Feeling aggrieved of the order of the District Forum insurer filed appeal before the State Commission. Without considering the pros and cons of the case, State Commission just reduced the amount of compensation to be awarded to the petitioner to Rs.19,268/-. When repairs had been carried out by an authorised agent of the manufacturer there was no justification for the State Commission to ignore that and to award Rs.19,268/- because the insurer thought that to be the correct amount to be given. Insurer had not justified its stand as to why when it agreed to pay compensation of Rs.20,868/- it brought it down to Rs.19,268/-. Insurer also could not deny the payment of the amount of compensation to the insured what it itself considered to be the right amount of compensation and it could not withhold that amount as a pressure tactics requiring the insured to give it a receipt of full and final settlement and only then to release the amount of compensation. This practice of the insurer must stop forthwith. As far as it should be clearly understood that if the insured gives an imaginary or inflated claim, it will have to suffer the consequences of exemplary cost which we may impose on it.
Accordingly, this petition is allowed, order of the State Commission is set aside and that of District Forum is restored. Since respondents were not represented, there shall be no order as to cost.
( B.K. TAIMNI)