NCDRC Rejects SBI Life Insurance's Contention on Fabricated ID Proof; Asks To Pay Rs2.50 Lakh to Claimant
Moneylife Digital Team 13 April 2023
While rejecting the contention that the policy was obtained based on a fabricated voter ID card, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed SBI Life Insurance Co Ltd to pay Rs2.50 lakh with interest at 9%pa (per annum) from 1 August 2014, Rs10,000 as compensation for mental harassment and Rs5,000 as litigation expenses to the son of the insured. 
In an order earlier this week, the bench of Subhash Chandra (presiding member) of NCDRC also upheld orders passed by the fora below. "The present revision petition is, therefore, an attempt by the petitioner to urge this Commission to re-assess, re-appreciate the evidence which cannot be done in revisional jurisdiction...The foras below have pronounced orders which are detailed and have dealt with all the contentions of the petitioner. In view of the settled proposition of law that where two interpretations of the evidence are possible, concurrent findings have to be accepted and such findings cannot be substituted in revisional jurisdiction, this petition is liable to fail."
SBI Life Insurance had filed the revision petition challenging orders passed by the Chandigarh district forum and Punjab state consumer disputes redressal commission. 
Ferozpur-based Bachan Singh had bought an insurance policy of Rs2.50 lakh from the insurer based on a proposal form dated 19 August 2013. In the proposal form, his date of birth was mentioned as 1 January 1957, which made him 56 years old at the time of the commencement of the policy. SBI Life Insurance issued the policy and collected Rs12,500 as half-yearly premium. 
However, on 29 October 2013, Bachan Singh died. His son Tarsem Singh filed an insurance claim with SBI Life Insurance. However, after an investigation, SBI Life Insurance rejected the claim on 1 August 2014, stating that Bachan Singh (the deceased life insured -DLA) had misrepresented his date of birth at the time of the policy.
SBI Life Insurance stated that while Bachan Singh had submitted his voter ID card as proof of age, information (voter's list) downloaded from the official website of the chief electoral officer of Punjab showed the DLA's age as 88 years. 
"The claim was, therefore, rejected on the ground that the policy was obtained on the basis of a fabricated voter ID card which rendered the contract of insurance void," the insurer says. 
Tarsem Singh then approached the district forum seeking payment of Rs2.50 lakh as the sum assured in the policy, Rs50,000 as compensation for mental agony and Rs11,000 as litigation cost. After hearing both sides, the district forum allowed the complaint and directed SBI Life Insurance to pay Rs2.50 lakh with interest at 9% from the date of repudiation (1 August 2014) till realisation, Rs10,000 compensation for mental harassment and Rs5,000 as litigation expenses. 
SBI Life Insurance filed an appeal before the state commission. While dismissing the appeal, the state commission observed that " prove the age of the particular voter, recorded in that list, it was necessary to examine the witness, who disclosed the age of the voter to the concerned authority. No presumption of truth is attached to the entries made in the voters' list. The opposite parties did not examine any witness who might have come forward with the statement that the said age of Bachan Singh, insured, was disclosed by him to the concerned department." 
"The identity card issued by the election commission of India (ECI) is to be preferred to that voters list. Merely on the basis of that uncertified copy of the voters' list, it cannot be concluded that in the year 2014 Bachan Singh, insured, was 88 years old. The complainant pleaded in para no.4 of the complaint that Bachan Singh had died on 29 October 2013 and that fact was admitted by the opposite parties in their written reply. In these circumstances, there was no question of the name of Bachan Singh figuring in the voters' list, which was prepared in the year 2014," the state commission says. 
SBI Life Insurance challenged the order before NCDRC, contending that the DLA intentionally and fraudulently suppressed his date of birth with a malafide intention. 
In response, Tarsem Singh, the son of Bachan Singh, submitted that the insurer's reliance on the data sheet of 2014 from the state election commission's website is erroneous and is not supported by any affidavit of any witness. He also contended that the district forum rightly ignored the voters' list, which was also not a certified copy and therefore, inadmissible as evidence. 
After hearing both sides, Mr Chandra from NCDRC observed that from the records, it is apparent that SBI Life Insurance has challenged the impugned order on the same grounds raised before the district forum and the state commission in appeal. 
"The concurrent findings on facts of these two foras are based on evidence led by the parties and documents on record. I, therefore, find no illegality or infirmity or perversity in the impugned order warranting interference. The present revision petition is, therefore, found to be without merits and is accordingly dismissed," NCDRC says.
(Revision Petition No1877 of 2016                  Date: 10 April 2023)
5 months ago
This is a very welcome judgment. Hope this would set the SBI Life think of fair practices and put them on their website.
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