- The petitioners had filed a claim against the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
- According to the petition, various insurance companies had collected premium amounts from a large number of Indian citizens, and there were unclaimed policies/amounts after the maturity period or death of the persons insured.
- The petition asked for directions to respondents to take appropriate action to formulate a policy for disbursement of unclaimed amounts to policyholders' successors, legal heirs, or nominees.
Contentions by the Petitioners
- The petitioners argued that unclaimed policies totaled Rs 15,167 crores and that because various insurance companies, including LIC, hold the money, it should be used for social welfare. The legal heirs of the policyholders should be found.
- It was also requested that the respondents be given instructions to ensure that all unclaimed funds were distributed in the manner specified by appointing an investigating body.
- It was suggested that the unclaimed money could then be put into government relief funds.
Contentions by the Respondents
- The IRDA's counsel informed that Central Government enacted the Senior Citizen Welfare Fund Act 2016 as part of the 2015 Finance Act, which requires all insurance companies to transfer unclaimed funds to the senior citizen welfare fund after ten years.
- It was stated that the IRDA is monitoring the transfer of funds under the Senior Welfare Funds Rules 2016, and insurance companies transferred Rs 81.65 crore in March 2018 and Rs 398.66 crore in March 2019 with the process continuing.
- Also, the counsel informed the Court of an IRDA master circular dated July 25, 2017, regarding unclaimed policyholder funds. The master circular provided a complete mechanism for unclaimed policies/unclaimed amounts.
- The LIC's counsel categorically stated that money was being transferred to the senior citizen's welfare fund as per IRDA directions and that unclaimed policy information is available on the LIC website.
- The Karnataka High Court division bench constituted by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum disposed of the petition on September 8, 2021.
- The Court ordered the IRDA to ensure that all insurance companies follow the master circular it issued and that unclaimed funds are transferred to the Senior Citizens Welfare Funds, established under the Finance Act of 2015.
- The Court concluded that there was already a mechanism in place to transfer funds to the senior citizen's welfare fund. As well as the fund is transferred regularly, the matter deserves to be disposed of. Hence, the petition was disposed of accordingly.
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