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Insurance company is not liable to pay compensation as the driver of the vehicle did not have driving license when the accident took place: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

Claimant cannot be denied the compensation/claim unless there is fundamental breach of the conditions of Insurance Policy and such breach is required to be established by the insurer. The aforesaid has been established by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh while adjudicating the case of Inderjit Singh v. O. I. Co. Ltd. & another [OWP No. 344/2008] which was decided upon by a two judge bench comprising Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Puneet Gupta on 25th August 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The writ petitioner, complainant before the Divisional Forum, filed a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act against respondent-Oriental Insurance Company Limited with a plea that he is entitled to the amount of Rs.50,000/- as damages along with interest on account of the accident which has taken place on 19.12.2013 resulting into damage to the vehicle during the accident. The complaint was contested by the respondentInsurance Company. The complaint was allowed by the forum whereby the petitioner herein was held entitled to payment of Rs.50006/- along with interest @ 6% per annum from the date as mentioned in the order dated 31.05.2006. The appeal was preferred by the Insurance Company against the aforesaid order before the State Commission. The Commission vide its order dated 12.03.2008 accepted the appeal of the Company and set aside the order of the Divisional Forum on the ground that the driver of the vehicle belonging to the writ petitioner (owner) was not having a valid driving license on the date the accident took place. The present petition has been filed against the order of State Commission on the ground that the appeal was decided by the Commission when the same was yet to be registered and numbered. Secondly, on the ground that the driver was holding a valid driving license at the time of the accident. It is also pleaded that once the driver holds valid driving license, the license continues to be effective till it is proved that he was disabled to hold the same.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. it was of the opinion that “The mere failure to renew the driving license on the date of accident may not fall within the zone of fundamental breach of policy in the present case when the driver did possess the effective driving license prior to the date of accident. Moreover, when the respondent could not bring to the notice of this Court that the expiry of the license on the date of occurrence was having direct relation to the accident. The authority of Lakhmi Chand (supra) does come to the aid of the petitioner herein and can apply in the present case more so when the sum is meager one and there is no dispute otherwise that the damage has been caused to the vehicle of the claimant-petitioner and the Insurance Company had even initially assessed the damages. The breach of the policy is not such which should disentitle the petitioner to the compensation as granted by the Divisional Forum. This Court does not intend to interfere in the order passed by the Divisional Forum. In view of the above, the petition is allowed and the order passed by the State Consumer Forum is set aside and the order of the Divisional Forum”

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