Consumer Law – Insurance – Theft of Vehicle – Whether the insurance company is liable to pay the claim for theft of the vehicle to the complainant, although, the insurance policy in the name of previous owner of the vehicle had not been transferred in the name of the new owner/complainant – Held, Although the vehicle had been purchased and delivered to the complainant, the complainant failed to make application for transfer of insurance policy to the insurance company within time and hence, the claim made by him for compensation on the theft of the vehicle is not payable by the said insurance company. The revision petition is, therefore, allowed and the orders passed by the State Commission as well as the District Forum are set aside. The consumer complaint stands dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.
Theft of Vehicle
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION NEW DELHI
BEFORE: HON’BLE DR. B.C. GUPTA, PRESIDING MEMBER HON’BLE MR. PREM NARAIN, MEMBER
Dated : 16 Aug 2016
REVISION PETITION NO. 3216 OF 2015
(Against the Order dated 07/10/2015 in Appeal No. 381/2015 of the State Commission Haryana)
1. FUTURE GENERALI INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. 001 DELTA PLAZA, 414, VEER SAVARKAR MARG, PRABHADEVI, MUMBAI MAHARASHTRA ………..Petitioner(s)
1. SOMBIR S/O SHRI MAHENDER SINGH, R/O VILLAGE MAKRANA TEHSIL CHARKHI DADRI, DISTRICT BHIWANI HARYANA-127306 ………..Respondent(s)
For the Petitioner : MR. KAPIL CHAWLA For the Respondent : MR. ANIL KUMAR SAINI
The complainant/respondent Sombir s/o Mahender Singh, purchased a tractor Farmtrac 60, registration No. HR-14F-3235 from Balwan s/o Amar Singh for a consideration of ₹4,40,000/-, which was already insured with the petitioner insurance company for the period 20.01.2012 to 19.01.2013, in the name of the previous owner Balwan. It has been stated in the consumer complaint that the complainant parked the vehicle on 15.08.2012 at about 8:30 PM in front of his house, but he discovered the next morning that the said tractor had been stolen. An FIR No. 270 dated 16.08.2012 under
Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code
was registered with the Police Station Dadri Sadar. After the Police filed an untraced report, the complainant applied for the insurance claim for the vehicle with the Insurance Company and submitted the relevant documents with the surveyor. However, the Insurance Company did not entertain the claim of the complainant on the ground that the insurance policy had not been transferred in the name of the complainant. It is the case of the complainant that he made an application with the registering authority for the transfer of ownership of vehicle in his name and the registration certificate was issued in his favour on 28.08.2012. He could not get the insurance policy transferred in his name because such transfer could have been made after the transfer of registration only. The complainant filed the consumer complaint in question, seeking directions to the insurance company to pay him the insured value of the vehicle, i.e., ₹4 lakh alongwith 18% interest p.a. from the date of theft of the vehicle till realisation. In addition, the complainant also asked for compensation for mental harassment, cost of litigation etc. and claimed a total sum of ₹4,73,528/- alongwith interest @18% p.a. from the Insurance Company.
2. The claim was resisted by the Petitioner/OP Insurance Company by filing a written statement before the District Forum in which they stated that the petitioner/OP had no privity of contract with the complainant and hence, the complaint against them was not maintainable. The complainant had neither informed the insurance company about the purchase of the vehicle, nor got the policy transferred in his name and hence, there was no insurable interest of the complainant for making payment of any claim under the Policy.
3. The OP Insurance Company mentioned about the General Regulations GR-17 of the India Motor Tariff, relating to the transfer of the vehicles, saying that the complainant was required to make an application within 14 days from the date of transfer to the insurer. On his failure to do so, there was no deficiency in service on the part of the insurance company towards him.
4. The District Forum vide order dated 18.03.2005, after taking into account the averments made by the parties, directed payment of the insured amount to the complainant alongwith interest @12% p.a. from the date of repudiation till realisation and also to pay ₹2,200/- as litigation charges. Being aggrieved against the said order of the District Forum, the petitioner Insurance Company challenged the same by way of an appeal before the State Commission and the said appeal having been dismissed by the State Commission, the petitioner is before this Commission by way of the present revision petition.
5. During arguments before us, the Ld. Counsel for the petitioner reiterated that there was no privity of contract between the complainant and the insurance company and hence, the complaint was not maintainable against them. The Ld. Counsel has drawn attention to an order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in
M/s Complete Insulations Private Limited vs. New India Insurance Company Ltd., I (1996) CPJ 1
saying that in the case of failure of the complainant to have the vehicle transferred, the insurer was not liable to make payment of any claim. The Ld. Counsel for the petitioner has also drawn attention to an order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in
Madineni Kondaiah and Ors. vs. Yaseen Fatima & Ors., I (1986) ACC 501
in which a similar view had been taken.
6. In reply, the Ld. Counsel for the complainant/respondent stated that in the affidavit filed by the complainant before the District Forum and the documents for the transfer of vehicle from Balwan s/o Mahender Singh to the complainant, it had been stated that the transfer of the vehicle was made on 24.07.2012. The said documents were submitted before the registering authority at Charakhi Dadri on 08.08.2012. The possession of the vehicle was transferred to the complainant on 15.08.2012 and on the same day, the vehicle was stolen. An FIR was lodged on the very next day, i.e., 16.08.2012 and an intimation was also sent to the insurer on that day. The change of name in the insurance policy could have been done only after the change of registration in his name. It was incumbent upon the insurance company, therefore, to make payment of the claim under the policy to the complainant.
7. We have examined the entire material on record and given a thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced before me.
8. The main point for consideration in the matter is whether the insurance company is liable to pay the claim for theft of the vehicle to the complainant, although, the insurance policy in the name of previous owner of the vehicle had not been transferred in the name of the new owner/complainant. The matter has been examined earlier in a catena of judgments given by the Hon’ble Apex Court and this Commission. The effect of section 157 of the Motor Vehicles Act and the India Motor Tariff Regulations, General Regulation (GR) 17 have been gone into in detail in many of these judgments.