Case nº Revision Petition No. 579 of 2013 of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, May 06, 2014 (case The Oriental Insurance Company Janpath, The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. Jalandhar and The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. Hoshiarpur Vs Seema)

JudgeFor Appellant: Mr. Manish Pratap Singh, Advocate and For Respondents: Mr. Vipin Gogia, Advocate
PresidentK.S. Chaudhari, J. (Presiding Member) and B.C. Gupta, Member
Resolution DateMay 06, 2014
Issuing OrganizationNational Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission


B.C. Gupta, Member

  1. This revision petition has been filed under section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the impugned order dated 31.08.2012, passed by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (for short 'the State Commission') in FA No. 1423/2007, "Oriental Insurance Company versus Seema," vide which while deciding the appeal, the order dated 19.09.2007 in consumer complaint no. 172 dated 28.05.2007, passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Hoshiarpur, allowing the said complaint, was modified.

  2. Briefly stated the facts of the case are that the respondent/complainant was the owner of a Mahindra Pick-up Jeep bearing registration no. PB07-Q-372, which was comprehensively insured with the petitioner/OP Insurance Company for the period from 17.08.2006 to 16.08.2007. It has been stated in the complaint that the complainant had purchased the jeep for her own use, but the said vehicle had been registered as a commercial vehicle with the registering authority. The complainant employed Ramesh Chand s/o Santosh as driver on her jeep. The said Ramesh Chand was the holder of a driving licence for Light Motor Vehicle (LMV). The jeep suffered damage in an accident on 21.09.2006, when Ramesh Chand was driving the vehicle. The complainant informed the insurance company, which deputed a surveyor to assess the loss. The jeep was got repaired at Hoshiarpur vide job card no. 1020 dated 28.10.2006, and a sum of `1,29,000/- was paid by the complainant herself. Thereafter, a claim was lodged with the petitioner/OP, but the same was repudiated by the OP, vide their letter dated 15.05.2007, on the ground that the vehicle was registered as LMV (goods-carrying vehicle), whereas the driver had licence for LMV only and hence, he was not holding a valid and effective driving licence for driving the said commercial vehicle. The complainant filed the consumer complaint in question before the District Forum which was allowed vide order dated 19.09.2007, and the OP was ordered to pay a sum of ` 1,21,000/- (` 1,29,000/- minus salvage value of ` 8,000/-), as assessed by the surveyor, vide his report alongwith interest @9% p.a. from the date of complaint till payment, and a further sum of ` 1000/- as cost of litigation. The District Forum held that there was no requirement of law that the licence for driving LMV should bear endorsement to the effect that driver is competent to drive a transport vehicle as per section 2(21) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. An appeal was filed against this order by the OP before the State Commission, which was decided vide impugned order dated 31.08.2012. The State Commission held that as per the amendment in the Motor Vehicle Rules made effective from 28.03.2001 by substituting GSR 221 (E), the licence held by the driver, cannot be held invalid in law, as Light Transport Vehicle was also covered under the definition of LMV. The State Commission, however, modified the award of the District Forum and stated that a sum of `96,015/- as assessed by the surveyor should be paid to the complainant, alongwith an interest of 7.5% p.a., instead of the amount of ` 1,29,000/- awarded by the District Forum. It is against this order that the present petition has been made.

  3. At the time of arguments before us, the learned counsel for the petitioner stated that the delay of 43 days in filing the petition had taken place because the matter had to be referred for legal opinion and some time was lost in correspondence between the Regional Office and the Head Office. There was no deliberate delay on the part of the petitioner in filing this petition. The delay should be condoned in view of the position explained in the application for condonation of delay.

  4. Learned counsel argued that the vehicle in question is a transport vehicle, but as admitted by the complainant, the driver had licence for driving the LMV only. A copy of the licence is also on record which shows that there was no endorsement on the licence for driving a commercial vehicle. The State Commission, while passing their order, had wrongly placed reliance on the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of "National Insurance CO. Ltd. versus Annappa Irappa NESARIA & ORS." [reported in IV 2008 ACC (169) SC.]. After the amendment that had taken place in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules in the year 2001, it was mandatory to have an endorsement on the licence to the effect that the driver was permitted to drive a transport vehicle.

  5. In reply, the learned counsel for the complainant/respondent vehemently argued that the vehicle in question was a Jeep, which was covered under the definition of LMV and hence, the driver had a valid and effective licence to drive the vehicle. The learned counsel produced various citations in support of his arguments, referring to the orders passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Commission in a number of cases. Referring to the order passed by the Hon'ble Apex Court in "National Insurance CO. Ltd. versus Swaran Singh & Others" [as reported in (2004) 3 SCC 297], the learned counsel argued that the onus to prove that there had been some breach of conditions of the Policy was on the Insurance Company itself, but they had failed to discharge the same. On the other hand, the complainant had taken the necessary precautions to check the driving licence of the driver Ramesh Chand before providing him...

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