Dr. (Mrs.) P. Marwaha And Ors. vs New India Assurance Co. Ltd. on 5/8/2005
P.D. Shenoy, Member
1. Aggrieved and dissatisfied by the order of the State Commission Punjab Chandigarh in original complaint No. 59 of 1997, the appellants have filed this appeal.
2. The State Commission has held that:
Such disputed questions as already stated above cannot be adjudicated in the summary jurisdiction under the Consumer Protection Act when three dates of theft are being alleged by the complainant and details of stolen articles on such dates are not being made available. It cannot be said that the Insurance Company was deficient in rendering service. The complaint is dismissed, leaving the complainant to approach the Civil Court, if so advised.
Case of the appellant
(a) The appellant Nos. 1 and 2 are doctors and running a maternity home viz. Marwaha Maternity Home at Amritsar. They wanted to get all types of instruments, equipments and furnishings etc. covered by an insurance policy. They obtained an insurance policy for Rs. 11,35,000/- as re-instatement value for fire insurance and Rs. 6,76,500/- as market value for burglary insurance. They gave a cheque towards the premium which was misplaced and accordingly a fresh cheque was issued on 2.12.1993 to the development officer and cover notes were issued for the period from 6.12.1993 to 5.12.1994.
(b) On 24.11.1993 complainants were informed that Shri Karnail Singh, Shri A.S. Bhinder and some other persons committed a criminal trespass on the premises. This was intimated to the Sr. Superintendent of Police through a phonogram. On 26.11.1993 when the appellants came back to Amritsar they were shocked to see that the persons were sitting in the hospital lawn and were taking liquor. They had also removed bedding, cots, tables etc. from the hospital and put them on the lawn. On intimation police came to the spot made an inquiry but did not take any action.
(c) On 20.12.1993 when the complainants had gone to Delhi, some persons came to the Maternity Home and dismantled the room coolers and sign boards. The appellants came back to Amritsar and saw one Shri Karnail Singh and Shri A.S. Bhinder and other persons loading these articles into a truck, but out of sheer fear did nothing. Subsequently, they intimated the police about this incident.
(d) On 17.1.1994, they sent a registered letter to the insurance company to register their claim, a copy of which was sent to Sr. Superintendent of Police, Amritsar. Earlier as they had the premonition of the danger to their property, they had filed a criminal complaint before the Illaqa Magistrate, Amritsar on 23.12.1993. On 26.1.1994, the same persons With the help of others had dismantled the roof of the garage and took/away several items from the garage. The appellant sought help of me police authorities including the IGP, Border Range, Amritsar.
(e) The complainants had claimed in their complaint a sum of Rs. 7,76,5007- with interest at the rate of 18% p.a. The insurance company had appointed Shri Pawan K. Nanda as Surveyor to assess the loss. The insurance company asked them to give several records including complete details of the articles stolen along witty a copy of the police report. It is contended that without the help of police, it was not possible to prepare the list of the stolen articles. Despite several reminders they could not get help from the local police authorities. The company/repudiated the claim of the appellants stating that the loss occurred on account of the dispute between the owners of the premises and the appellants who were the tenants.
The case of the Insurance Company
(a) The list of articles to be insured by the insurance company given to the development officer was the same list submitted by them to the Surveyor when the alleged theft took place. The complainants could not pin point the items stolen on the different dates when the theft had allegedly taken place. The complainants were also not clear on which dates the theft took place.
(b) The insurance company contended that the insurance policies cover the period from 6.12.1993 to 5.12.1994 whereas the incident of theft had occurred on 24.11.1993.
(c) This date of loss i.e., 24.11.1993 is fully established in the Court order dated 27.5.1994 of CJM, 1st Class, Amritsar pertaining to the dispute of the insurer with the owner of the building.
(d) The insurer did not disclose this date of loss i.e., 24.11.1993 which is material to the case before obtaining the insurance cover. Further, the insurance did not extend any cooperation to the surveyor.
Analysis of the case
The last para of the complaint filed reads as follows:
It is, therefore, respectfully prayed that an order directing the opposite party to pay a sum of Rs. 7,76,500/- with interest at the rate of 18% p.a. The date of loss till the date of realization be passed in favour of the complainants and against the opposite party with costs.
3. The appellants have failed to pin point the date of the loss. Subsequently, appellants have also failed to convince us the exact nature of the burglary, the exact dates of the burglary, the exact items which were stolen on different dates. Though, insurance company had appointed a Surveyor, the appellants could not give him the required information to arrive at an assessment of loss.
4. Assuming that the articles were stolen from Maternity Home on the following three days i.e., 24.11.1993, 20.12.1993 and 26.1.1994, 24.11.1993 is clearly prior to the date of commencement of insurance policy. Insurance is based on the principle of 'Uberrima fides' i.e., the most abundant good faith e.g. in the case of insurance, the insured must observe the most perfect good faith towards the insurer (Black's Law Dictionary). There is no evidence to substantiate that the appellants have brought this to the notice of the agent of the insurance company. For the subsequent dates, we have no authenticate records as to which items were stolen on which date and what was the loss.
5. It is clear from the above that the appellants have failed to convince us about any defect in the order passed, by the learned State Commission. We do not see any factual and legal infirmity in the order of the learned State Commission. Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.