Proximate nexus between the accident and the body injury is a must for accident claim in insurance matters

Proximate nexus between the accident and the body injury is a must for accident claim in insurance matters

Proximate nexus between the accident and the body injury is a must for accident claim in insurance matters

Death due to sun stroke during election duty will not come under the scope of the clause “death only resulting solely and directly from accident caused by external violent and any other visible means” said SC, confirming its earlier decision in the matter of Alka Shukla V/S LIC (2019)SC. 

  Dr Prem Lata, Legal Head VOICE 

A proximate causal relationship between the accident and the physical injury is required, according to the principle established on the subject. The rule of thumb for interpreting insurance contracts is to give the clauses a straightforward reading.

National Insurance Company Ltd. versus Chief Electoral Officer & Ors. Civil Appeal No.4769 of 2022; February 08, 2023

Facts leading to dispute  

The Chief Electoral Officer, Bihar, Patna, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on 09.02.2000 to provide insurance cover to the persons deployed for election related work for Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections in the year 2000 vide letter dated 10.02.2000. Subsequently the duration of the insurance scheme was extended from 24.05.2000 to 23.06.2000 by way of a supplementary policy keeping in mind the period of the by-polls.

Clause 3 in MOU, the claim compensation is as hereunder 

 “The insurance is intended to provide for the payment of compensation in the event of death only resulting solely and directly from accident caused by external violent and any other visible means.”

Deval Ravidas, Constable, Shivhar District Force, was a member of the Static Armed Force, posted at Booth no.67, Primary School, Mathura Sultanpur, Police Station Bidupur, District Vaishali, who died due to a sun stroke/heat stroke while performing election duty for the Bihar Legislative Assembly. This happened during the extended period of the insurance policy. 

After a long period of time, the late Constable Deval’s wife finally brought up the subject of compensation in a letter dated November 21, 2008.

After filing of this writ, The Assistant Election Officer wrote a letter dated 20.11.2009 addressed to the Under Secretary to the Lokayukta, Patna, Bihar, stating that the death of the deceased Constable occurred on account of heat stroke on 26.05.2000 during election duty and had not occurred on account of any external violent activity/accident. Thus, compensation to the wife deceased Constable Deval could not be found admissible for payment.

Writ Petition before High court  

Wife of Deval in Writ Petition, before the High Court of Patna prayed for quashing the above letter and sought payment of compensation amount of Rs.10 lakhs as per the insurance policy since her husband had died while performing election duty. On direction from Single judge the District Election Officer placed a notice of claim dated 24.04.2011 to the insurance company regarding the claim for insurance. 

Insurance company rejected the claim 

The learned Single Judge in the Writ Petition, CWJC No.1781/2011 then decided not to go into the issue whether the accidental death was in terms of the policy because the Chief Electoral Officer in an affidavit had already acknowledged the eligibility for payment to the wife of the deceased police official. Relying upon that admission and also in view of the facts that the claim was required to be lodged within the duration of the policy, i.e., 24.05.2000 to 23.06.2000. The Court opined that the primary responsibility to raise the claim under the policy was with the officials of the State Government and that they did not raise the claim within the duration of the policy and permitted the policy to lapse. Therefore, the liability to pay the amount to the deceased wife was assigned to the Chief Electoral Officer and the District Magistrate, Vaishali.

It was stated by the Chief Electoral Officer that the family of deceased had already been paid during the pendency of writ but the Chief Election Officer preferred appeal against the order of single judge to the Division bench with a plea that insurance company cannot escape from the liability of paying compensation merely because they were late in filing claim. It was said that the election officer was an agent for the purpose of forwarding premium payment to insurance and secondly accident occurred during the tenure of existing policy. Division bench agreed to the point that the incident took place during the policy period, hence liability lies with the insurance company.

Insurance company now comes in appeal before SC

There were two issues before the Supreme Court 

  1. Consequences of delay in filing claim after about seven and a half years  
  2. Whether insurance was covered for ‘accidental death’ under the present facts and situation    

After carefully weighing all the relevant information, previously decided cases, and insurance law, the Supreme Court determined that

  • Admittedly claim was beyond the reasonable time and was not admissible

On the question of liability of Insurance company on merits of the case, it is held that “proximate causal relationship between the accident and the body injury is a necessity as per the definition of Accident Death due to sun stroke during election duty will not come under the scope of the clause “death only resulting solely and directly from accident caused by external violent and any other visible means.” Hence Insurance was not found liable on both the counts.

2021 In Review: Landmark judgments by the Supreme Court

2021 In Review: Landmark judgments by the Supreme Court

2021 In Review: Landmark judgments by the Supreme Court

Leading cases decided by the honourable Supreme Court in the year 2021 are going to be remembered as benchmark judgments in the evolution of consumer jurisprudence. Let us know here, what significance these hold.

Dr Prem Lata

Supreme Court (SC) is the final court of appeal in the country. As per Consumer Protection Act (CPA), cases reach the Court when judgements of the National Consumers Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) come in to appeal by the losing party. The SC has worked very well in 2021 to adjudicate consumer disputes that came before it. It also took cognizance of some vital consumer issues which were affecting the consumer rights adversely by giving a just interpretation to the law to end consumer sufferings. 

To put this into perspective, let us recap a bit. Year 2019 was a table-turning year when Consumer Protection Act 1986 was repealed with the Act of 2019. This new law came into force in July 2020. Consequently, year 2021 was full of queries, debates and implementation of issues arising from repeal of old Consumer Protection Act. As per the Indian Constitution, SC judgements are to be followed by all courts of the country and their interpretation must be observed in adjudicating the cases at various levels by courts at all levels. Here are the top 10 cases in Consumer Law decided in 2021:


Ireo Grace Realtech Pvt. Ltd. Vs Abhishek Khanna & Others, Civil Appeal No. 5785 of 2019 (Supreme Court)

Bench -Dr Dhananjaya, Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, Indira Banerjee

Decided on –January11, 2021

Ref. Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd Vs Govindan Raghavan

SC held-

“We are of the view that the incorporation of such one-sided and unreasonable clauses in the Apartment Buyer’s Agreement constitutes an unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act. Developer cannot compel the apartment buyers to be bound by the one-sided contractual terms contained in the Apartment Buyer’s Agreement.”


Narinder Chopra V/S Jaiprakash Associates (NC)

Consumer Complaint No 3258 0f 2017 along with IA 330 of 2021&IA 1130 Of 2021

Decided On 16.5.2021

Law point:  

  1. Whether pending matters are to be transferred to appropriate commission after enhancement of pecuniary jurisdiction 

NC held-

  • There is no provision for transfer of pending cases in the new Act of 2019
  • The transitional provisions contained in Sections 31, 45 and 56 expressly indicate that the adjudicatory personnel who were functioning as Members of the District Commission, SCDRC and NCDRC under the erstwhile legislation shall continue to hold office under the new legislation. 
  • Previous decisions of the NCDRC which had interpreted after amendments 2002, that enhanced pecuniary jurisdiction, with prospective effect. Ref. Cases Southfield Paints and Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Premier Automobiles Ltd. v. Dr Manoj Ramachandran, where the NCDRC held that the amendments enhancing the pecuniary jurisdiction are prospective in nature.


M/s Daddy’s Builders Pvt. Ltd. & Another Vs Manisha Bhargava and Another 

(Petition for Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No. 1240 of 2021)

Decided on February 11, 2021. Supreme Court of India

SC held-

  • Written statement by opposite party to complaint within 30 days or such extended period, not exceeding 15 days, should be read as mandatory
  • Commencing point of limitation of 30 days, under the aforesaid provisions, would be from the date of receipt of notice accompanied by a copy of the complaint, and not merely receipt of the notice

 CASE 4 

Ireo Grace Realtech Pvt. Ltd. Vs Abhishek Khanna & Others Civil Appeal No. 5785 Of 2019 (Supreme Court 

Bench -Dr Dhananjaya, Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, Indira Banerjee

Decided on –January11, 2021

SC held-

  • Both the acts are equal and not conflicting or inconsistent to each other, give additional remedy to the consumers under Section 100 of CP Act 2019 & Section 88 of RERA Act 2019
  • Section 79 of the RERA Act bars any civil proceedings in real estate matters but does not bar Consumer Commissions
  • Section 71(1) of the RERA Act entitles a complainant to withdraw the proceedings under the CP Act with the permission of the Forum or Commission and file under RERA Act. 


Honda Cars India Limited Vs Sudesh Berry CIVIL APPEAL NO.6802 OF 2021 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.11986/2020) SC 

Decided on 12 November, 2021

SC held

  • If there be any deficiency in service by the dealer or the authorised centre in rendering assistance for repairs of the vehicle, the manufacturer of the vehicle cannot be held liable. 

CASE 6  

TATA Motors Ltd Vs Antonio Paulo Vaz & Another, 2021 SCC Online SC 125 

SC held 

  • Manufacturer and dealer have principal to principal relation and not of principal to agent. Manufacturer not held liable for the wrongs of dealer.                                                                 

CASE  7  Manohar Infrastructure and Constructions Private Ltd Vs Sanjeev Kumar Sharma & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 714]

Decided on December 2021

SC held

  • NC has discretionary power vested with it to impose any condition while giving stay and rightly ordered to pay entire amount as determined amount by State Commission
  • This condition has to do nothing with mandatory requirement of depositing 50 per cent of determined amount by State Commission. 


M/s Sheth M L Vaduwala Eye Hospital Vs Oriental Insurance Company Limited and Others SC Judgment by J. Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J. Dt 11 Dec 2021

SC held 

An insurance policy taken by doctors for professional indemnity can’t be used to make insurance companies pay the liability of compensation to patients on behalf of the hospital which is not insured. 

CASE 9. 

M/S. Newtech Promoters And Developers Pvt. Ltd Vs State Of Up & Ors. 

Civil Appeal No(S). 6753 Of 2021 (Arising Out Of SLP(Civil) No(S). 3426 Of 2021)

SC Judgment Dt 11 Nov 2021 

SC held 

  • To ensure greater accountability towards consumers and in view of the objective of the act, ongoing projects are also brought under the provisions of the act hence retroactive application of RERA Act confirmed 
  • Section 18 confers right upon an allottee to get refund of the amount deposited with the promoter with interest if the promoter fails to give possession by the date specific
  • Single member of the authority under Section 81 of the Act authorised to order for refund and under Sec 40 can provide for collection of funds as revenue.

CASE  10 Union Bank Of India v/s Rajasthan Real Estate Regulatory 

High Court Of Judicature For Rajasthan Bench At Jaipur D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 13688/2021 Bench: Akil Kureshi, Uma Shanker Vyas 

Decided on 14.12.2021 

H.C of Rajasthan held 

  • That pursuant to taking possession of the project, the bank enters into the shoes of the promoter and becomes the assignee of the promoter and thus, amenable to jurisdiction of RERA.
  • The RERA would prevail over SARFAESI Act‘ 
  • The rights of the real estate allottees cannot be compromised for the legal rights of Bank

Relief to Star Plus and Bharti Airtel in KBC case

Relief to Star Plus and Bharti Airtel in KBC case

Supreme Court Division Bench, set aside National Commission’s order, in Star India (P) Ltd. v. Society of Catalysts & Anr, directing Star India and Bharti Airtel to collectively pay punitive damages amounting to Rs. 1 crore to the complainant organisation for unfair trade practice in their extremely popular TV game show ‘KBC’ (Kaun banega Crorepati). The Supreme Court has termed as “bad in law” the NCDRC verdict, directing Star India (P) Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd to pay punitive damages of Rs 1 crore for alleged “unfair trade practice” in a contest for the “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (KBC)In the instant case, Star India (P) Ltd., used to broadcast the programme ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. The programme was sponsored by Bharti Airtel Limited, during the telecast of this programme, a contest called ‘Har Seat Hot Seat’ was conducted, in which the viewers of KBC were invited to participate. There was no entry fee for the HSHS contest. However, it is not disputed that participants in the HSHS contest were required to pay Rs. 2.40 per SMS message to Airtel, which was higher than the normal rate for SMS. . It was alleged that the creators of the show had deceived the viewers by creating an impression that the participation in the contest conducted at the end of each episode of KBC called “Har Seat Hot Seat” was free of cost, whereas the cost of organising the contest as well as the prize money was being reimbursed from the increased SMS rates by the sponsor company Airtel which was being shared with Star India. The complainant company grounded its allegations on a survey which it conducted and it was also published in the national daily “Hindustan Times” where consumers said that they were under the impression that participation to the contest was free of cost.

Respondent which is a consumer society, filed a complaint before the National Commission against Star India and Airtel, contending that they were committing an ‘unfair trade practice’ of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The consumer commission in its order observed that the defendant company refused to disclose the show revenue earned by the said contest under confidentiality of proprietary information and they had created an impression that the participation in the contest was free of cost. Star in its defence said that the findings are based on inferences and speculations, and on reliance on a newspaper report without corroboration of its contents, which was impermissible and appealed before the SC.

The bench comprising Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar & Justice R. Subhash Reddy found that the complainant has clearly failed to discharge the burden to prove that the prize money was paid out of SMS revenue, and its averments on this aspect appear to be based on pure conjecture and surmise. The Apex Court further said that there is no basis to conclude that the prize money for the HSHS contest was paid directly out of the SMS revenue earned by Airtel, Airtel and Star India had colluded to increase the SMS rates so as to finance the prize money and share the SMS revenue, and the finding of the commission of an “unfair trade practice” rendered by the National Commission on this basis is liable to be set aside.

The court said that the National Commission had no basis to hold Star and Bharti Airtel guilty, although they had not specifically denied that the prize money was paid out of the increased SMS charges, but they had clarified in their submissions that Airtel was merely a  sponsor/advertiser of the program. The commercial arrangement between the parties was that Airtel would pay sponsorship charges, whereas Star India would be independently liable for paying the prize money out of its pocket regardless of the revenue earned by Airtel. Further the court said that reliance on the newspaper report from Hindustan times is unwarranted. The court setting aside the commission’s order and relieving the companies of the punitive damages said “the complainant in the present case had not prayed for punitive damages in the complaint or proved that any actual loss was suffered by consumers.”


Written by: Ankur Saha, Head- Legal, VOICE

Airline Not Obliged To Escort Passengers To Boarding Gate: Supreme Court

Airline Not Obliged To Escort Passengers To Boarding Gate: Supreme Court

Missed your flight? You can miss your flight due to various reasons, vital among them is traffic. Consequences of missing flight could be heavy, both in your pocket and time, as they are expensive to purchase and it also muddle with your schedule. However, still people tend to miss their flights so many times. Many a times your airline service provider is responsible but there are instances where passenger himself is liable for such consequence. Recently, Supreme Court has delivered a judgment on this issue. And here we will observe how a passenger is accountable for missing the flight.In the matter of Indigo Airlines, Kolkata & Anr vs. Kalpana Rani Debbarma & Ors., the Supreme Court held that airlines are not obliged to escort every passenger who has boarding passes to the boarding gate, and passengers are at their own discretion to seek assistance from ground staff. A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said, the Airlines cannot be blamed for the non-reporting of the passengers at the boarding gate when the boarding gate was finally closed.

In the instant case, the passengers had booked air tickets from Kolkata to Agartala on a flight operated by Indigo. It was contended by the passengers that the flight took off without any information about its departure, even though they had boarding passes. Also, that their request to be accommodated in the next available flight was given no heed. As a result of this, they had to incur additional expenditure for extended stay and were subjected to mental harassment. Therefore, they filed a complaint before the District Forum claiming Rs. 3,77,770 along with an interest at the rate of 12 % per annum.

Indigo contested the claim and stated that the passengers had failed to comply with the conditions of carriage (COC) which stipulated that the boarding gate will be closed 25 minutes prior to the departure time. It was contended that this was in fact not the fault of the airlines, but of the passengers themselves. It was also contended by Indigo that they were not obliged to accommodate the respondents on another flight in light of “Gate No Show” stipulated in the COC. The airline contested this stating ample announcements were made at regular intervals, but the passengers did not report at the boarding gate on time.

The top court observed that it would not be appropriate to cast an obligation on any airlines to delay the departure of an aircraft beyond the scheduled time of the departure and to await late arrival of any passenger, whosoever he/she may be, “howsoever highly or lowly placed”.

After boarding pass is issued, the passenger is expected to proceed towards security channel area and head towards specified boarding gate on his own. There is no contractual obligation on the airlines to escort every passenger, after the boarding pass is issued to him at the check-in counter, up to the boarding gate,” the bench said. It noted that the airlines issuing boarding passes cannot be made liable for the misdeeds, inaction or so to say misunderstanding caused to the passengers, until assistance is sought from the ground staff of the airlines at the airport well in time.

The bench declined to issue direction on the suggestion of senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, appointed amicus curiae in the case, to all airlines to adopt this practice uniformly. The court said that it will allow the competent authority (DGCA) to consider this issue and after interacting with all the stakeholders, take appropriate decision and issue instructions.

Written by: Ankur Saha, Head- Legal, VOICE

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