Co.Ltd. Vs. J. Maheshwaramma  INSC 1002 (8 May 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2009 (@ SPECIAL LEAVE
PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 19995 OF 2007) National Insurance Company Limited
...Appellant(s) - Versus - J. Maheshwaramma ...Respondent(s)
appeal has been filed impugning the judgment and order dated 3.9.2007 passed by
the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi (hereinafter
referred to as `the National Commission').
said National Commission in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction refused to
interfere with the concurrent findings of both the District Forum and the State
facts which were alleged in the complaint filed before the District Forum,
Mehboob Nagar, are as follows:
husband of the complainant late Beesana, obtained policy bearing
No.6200001644/2005 from the National Insurance Company Limited for
Rs.1,00,000/-. The policy covers the risk of accidental death of insured. The
legal heir of the insured will get Rs.1,00,000/- under the policy. The policy
holder died on 24.11.2005 in a road accident while he was proceeding on his
motorcycle bearing No. AP 22-J278 from Gadwal to Veerapoor. On the way in the
limits of PJP Colony, where the tractor bearing No. AP 22 C 3422 which was
coming from 2 the opposite side, came at a high speed in a rash and negligent
manner and hit the motor cycle of Beesanna and Beesanna sustained fatal
injuries. The doctors advised to shift him to Kurnool hospital. While on the
way to Kurnool hospital, Beesanna succumbed to the injuries.
the complainant submitted Claim Form of the appellant herein along with all
other relevant documents.
main contention raised by the appellant before the District Forum was that the
deceased had no valid licence at the time of accident. The fact that late
Beesanna obtained the policy to cover a risk to the third parties, own damages
and personal accident is not disputed by the appellant. It is also not in
dispute that at the time of accident, the insurance policy was valid.
is not in dispute that as per the terms of the policy, the nominee will get
Rs.1,00,000/- if the policy holder dies in a motor accident .
stand of the appellant is that the driving licence of the deceased which was
sent for verification is found to be fabricated. Their further stand is that
the policy holder had got driving licence to drive Tractor Trailer (Transport)
but had no licence to drive motorcycle with gear.
the District Forum, the stand of the appellant was that Exhibit B-1, the
licence of the deceased purports to be a fabricated one created in favour of
the deceased for the purpose of wrongful gain.
District Forum observed that they are unable to appreciate the said stand
because of the reason that the contents of Exhibit B-2 4 have not been
challenged before it by the insurer by way of affidavit of the authority which
issued the certificate.
District Forum came to a finding that the burden wholly lies on insurance
company to establish the defence raised by it in such a proceeding and also to
establish the breach on the part of the insured.
support of its contention the District Forum has quoted the judgment passed by
the National Commission in National Insurance Co.
297; wherein it has
been clearly laid down that the breach of policy condition has to be proved by
the insurance company and it is very clear that the burden of proof is on them.
National Insurance Co. Ltd. (supra) it has been held that the burden is on the
insurer to prove that the insured is guilty for willful 5 breach of conditions
of insurance policy or the contract of insurance. (See para 92, page 337).
coming to the said conclusion the learned Judges relied on the decision in the
case and Ors. - (2003) 3 SCC 338 and held if a person has been given a licence
for driving a particular type of vehicle, it cannot be said that he has no
In this case it is an
admitted fact that the victim had licence to drive a tractor with trailer, but
the allegation of the appellant is that victim's licence to drive the
motorcycle with gear is fabricated. In any event it cannot be said that the
victim had no driving licence. In such a case, it has to be found on the basis
of evidence laid before the fact finding body whether the driver licenced to
drive one type of vehicle but driving 6 another type of vehicle was the main
or the contributory cause of the accident.
such a case is not made out, the insurance company cannot avoid its liability
merely on the basis of technical breach of licencing conditions. [See para 89,
page 336 of the report in National Insurance (supra)].
view of the aforesaid legal position, the District Forum held that the
insurance company before it failed to establish valid grounds on which they can
repudiate the claim. As such the repudiation of the claim by the insurance
company was held arbitrary and unreasonable.
this finding the District Forum held that the complainant-wife of the deceased
is entitled for the sum assured of Rs.1,00,000/- together with interest thereon
@ 9% per annum from the date of repudiation of the claim i.e, 28.2.2006.
the said judgment of the District Forum, an appeal was filed by the appellant
before the State Commission. The State Commission also accepted the finding of
the District Forum in view of the fact that there is no dispute with regard to
the complainant's husband having a valid insurance policy and also in view of
the fact that there is no dispute that the accident occurred and the insured
died during the validity of the said policy.
view of such concurrent finding, the National Commission did not interfere with
the same. The State Commission also came to a finding that the burden is on the
Insurance Company to show that the driving licence of the deceased was
fabricated and the said burden has not been discharged.
basic issue in the case was whether the deceased had a valid driving licence to
drive the vehicle i.e. motor cycle with gear which was involved in the
accident. The District Forum, State Commission and National Commission were of
the view that since the deceased had a valid insurance policy and there was no
dispute that the accident had taken place and the insured died during the
validity of said policy, the stand that the driving licence of the deceased was
fabricated was of no consequence. It was held that the insurance company had
not discharged the burden to prove that the driving licence of the deceased was
fabricated. The District Forum observed that no affidavit of the authority who
issued the certificate (Ex.B-2) has been filed. The view was endorsed by the
State Commission and by the National Commission. Additionally, the National
Commission held that the licence produced clearly indicated that the deceased
was having licence to drive motor cycle also. This finding cannot be maintained
because there was a dispute about the genuineness of the licence failed to show
that the deceased had licence to drive motor cycle. Additionally after Exh. B-2
was filed, there was no material brought on record by the complainant to show
that the certificate dated 27.2.2006 issued by transport authorities was not
question of the insurance company having not discharged the burden does not
arise. In addition the decision in Swaran Singh's case (supra) was considered
in Dhut [2007 (4) SCALE 36]. In Laxmi Narain's case (supra) this Court observed
that the said decision is applicable to only third party claim cases and even
had no application to own damage cases i.e. cases of contractual liability. The
present case is not a third party case and is a case of contractual 10
liability and therefore Swaran Singh's case (supra) was not applicable.
the circumstances we think that it would be appropriate to remit the matter to
the National Commission to consider the matter afresh in the light of Laxmi
Narain's case (supra). The National Commission shall permit the parties to
place material on record regarding the authenticity or otherwise of the driving
appeal is disposed of.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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