Fitness Certificate; Baghel Singh Vs. National Insurance Co. Ltd. [National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, 16-09-2016]

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 – Section 21(b) – Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 – Section  56(1) – Certificate of fitness of transport vehicles – A transport vehicle was required to have a fitness certificate for the safety of passengers or goods. There being violation of the statutory requirements laid down in the Motor Vehicles Act, the claim was not payable. The State Commission rightly observed that in the absence of the fitness certificate, the truck in question shall not be deemed to be validly registered as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Fitness Certificate


NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION NEW DELHI

BEFORE: HON’BLE DR. B.C. GUPTA,PRESIDING MEMBER

Dated : 16 Sep 2016

REVISION PETITION NO. 622 OF 2013

(Against the Order dated 22/03/2012 in Appeal No. 1605/2007 of the State Commission Haryana)

1. BAGHEL SINGH S/O SHRI TEJA SINGH, R/O KANGAN PUR ROAD, SIRSA, TEHSIL SIRSA HARYANA ………..Petitioner(s) Versus   1. NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD. THROUGH ITS BRANCH MANAGER,  REGIONAL OFFICE SCO NO- 337-340, SECTOR-35-B CHANDIGARH ………..Respondent(s)

For the Petitioner : Mr. Avanish Kumar, Advocate For the Respondent : Mr. Animesh Sinha, Advocate

ORDER

This revision petition has been filed by the complainant, Baghel Singh under

Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

against the impugned order dated 22.3.2012,  passed by the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Panchkula  (hereinafter referred to  as the ‘State Commission’) in First Appeal No.1605/2007, National Insurance Company Ltd. vs. Baghel Singh, vide which, while allowing appeal, the order passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum,  Sirsa on 21.5.2007 in Consumer Complaint No.439/2005, allowing the said complaint, was set aside.

2. The facts of the case are that the complainant, Baghel Singh is the registered owner of truck No.HR-46A-7454, which was the old registration number given by the Authorities in Haryana and subsequently, on 26.12.2003, the truck was registered at Hanumangarh (Rajasthan) and the registration no. became RJ-31G 5542.  The said truck, which was insured with the opposite party (OP), National Insurance Company Ltd. from 18.10.2003  to 17.10.2004,  met with an accident  at Burdwan (West Bengal) on 29.10.2003. The report of the accident was lodged with the police and an intimation was also given to the insurance company. It is stated that some repair work for the truck was done on the spot and for the remaining repairs, it was brought to Sirsa, Haryana. The complainant lodged claim with the insurance company for payment of bills for repairs, but the claim was repudiated by the OP, vide letter dated 16.4.2004 on the ground that the fitness certificate of the truck had  expired on 17.10.2003.  The case of the complainant is that at the time of expiry of the fitness certificate on 17.10.2003, the truck was away from the registering authority and on returning back, the truck was produced before the District Transport Officer, Hanumangarh. The fitness certificate was issued on 5.11.2003. Alleging deficiency in service on the part of the insurance company in repudiating the claim, the complainant filed the consumer complaint in question, seeking directions to the OP insurance company to pay Rs.80,000/- for damages to the truck, Rs.25,000/- as compensation against  mental harassment and Rs.2,500/- as litigation cost with interest @ 18%  per annum from the date of accident till realization.

3. The complaint was resisted by the OP insurance company by filing a written reply before the District Forum in which they stated that under the Motor Vehicles Act, it was obligatory on the complainant to take the vehicle to the competent authority to obtain the fitness certificate. The insurance company was bound by the terms and conditions of the insurance policy and hence, they had rightly repudiated the claim. The OP also stated that as per the report of the surveyor, the loss was to the extent of Rs.19,906/- against the estimated loss of Rs.60,380/-. Moreover, the vehicle was a commercial vehicle, being used for a commercial purpose and hence, the present complaint was not maintainable under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 as complainant did not fall under the category of ‘consumer’. The OP stated that the complainant himself had admitted that there was no fitness certificate for the truck between the period 17.10.2003 to 5.11.2003. According to the OP, the concerned Authority in every District of any State is competent to give the fitness certificate.

4. The District Forum,  after taking into account the averments of the parties,  concluded that there was gross deficiency in service on the part of the insurance company in repudiating the claim. They directed the OP to pay a sum of Rs.60,380/- to the complainant with interest @ 9% per annum from the date of repudiation i.e. 16.4.2004 till realization and in addition,  pay sum of Rs.10,000/- as compensation and Rs.2,500/- as cost of litigation.  Being aggrieved against the order of the District Forum, the OP insurance company challenged the same by way of appeal before the State Commission. The State Commission allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the District Forum, vide their order dated 22.3.2012,  relying upon the order of this Commission in

United India Insurance Company Ltd. vs. B. Ugandar, III (2010) CPJ 253 (NC)

and stating that under

Section 56 of the Motor Vehicles Act

the truck in question,  shall not be deemed to be validly registered in the absence of the fitness certificate.  Being aggrieved against the said order of the State Commission, the complainant is before this Commission by way of the present revision petition.

5. During arguments, the learned counsel for the petitioner stated that the order passed by the State Commission was an ex parte order and the complainant had no opportunity to present his case before the State Commission. The learned counsel argued that the burden of proof was on the insurance company to prove that there was any breach of conditions of the contract between the parties.  The learned counsel stated that the order passed by the District Forum was in accordance with law and payment had also been made by the OP in accordance with that order.  The learned counsel relied upon the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court  in