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NAME OF THE CASE AND CORAM

  • NAME: Khatema Fibres Ltd. vs. New India Assurance Company Ltd.
  • CORAM: Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Rama Subramanian
  • CASE NO:CA 9050 OF 2018

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Surveyors' Report is not totally sacrosanct.
  • Consumer Forums, which are primarily concerned with service failure allegations, cannot conduct or perform a forensic examination of the surveyor's report in the same way that a civil court can.

CASE BACKGROUND

  • The plaintiff purchased a "Standard Fire and Social Perils" policy from the insurance provider. A fire broke out at its factory premises while the policy was in effect.
  • The Insurance Company hired M/S Adarsh Associates to undertake a survey, and the firm presented a report estimating the loss at Rs.2,86,17,942.
  • The aggrieved complainant filed a consumer complaint with the National Commission, requesting compensation in the amount of Rs.1364.88 lakhs, among other things. The insurance firm was ordered by the commission to pay only the amount of Rs.2,85,76,561 that they had accepted.

CASE PROCEEDINGS

  • The Apex Court noted that the objections to the Surveyors' Report are totally unsustainable, and that the National Commission correctly dismissed those objections based on the facts on file.
  • The court also noted that this is not the type of situation in which the Insurance Company rejected the appellant's claim arbitrarily or on unjustified reasons. In this case, the appellant's claim has been accepted to the extent of the loss as determined by the Surveyor. In such circumstances, the special forum established under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 has limited jurisdiction.
  • If the appellant had gone to civil court, they could have been able to summon the Surveyor and cross-examine him on every last detail. However, a consumer cannot win a complaint before the Consumer Forum unless he can show that the service provider failed to offer adequate service.
  • A Consumer Forum, which is primarily concerned with a claim of service failure, cannot conduct a forensic investigation of the surveyor's report, as a civil court may.
  • Once it is determined that the surveyor performed his or her role and obligations in a manner prescribed by the Regulations as to their code of conduct, and that the report is not based on uneven planning and urgency or vitiated by arbitrariness, the Consumer Forum's jurisdiction to go further will be terminated.

CASE RELEVANCE

  • Even though an insurance surveyor's report is too valuable to be interfered with, the Supreme Court stated that a Consumer Forum that is primarily concerned with a complaint of service deficiency cannot submit it to a forensic investigation of its anatomy.
  • The court made this observation while maintaining a judgement of the National Consumer Disputes Redress Commission that limited the amount of compensation payable to claimants to the final Surveyor's assessment.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. You may now be able to answer the following questions, let us know in the comments section

  • Should the consumer forum be given the power to do the cross examination just like the Civil court ?
  • What are your views on the judgment given by the court?
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