ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company has been directed to pay the wife of a Kolhapur farmer who died of bullet injuries after his licensed revolver misfired.
The Maharashtra Consumer Redressal Ccommission said the company cannot withhold the insurance money due to the farmer’s family on the grounds that the mishap was due to negligence and not an accident because a first information report (FIR) had been registered against him.
The commission ruled that ICICI Lombard cannot rely on an FIR while deciding a claim. Bhoraj Kamble, the farmer, had bought ICICI Lombard’s Janata Personal Accident Policy. On December 13, 2005, when he slipped on the steps in his field in Ganganbawada, his licensed firearm misfired.
Kamble sustained serious injuries and died.
When his wife Tulsabai filed her claim, ICICI Lombard rejected it saying Kamble was to blame for the incident. To drive home its point, the company said the police had registered an offence against Kamble under Section 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.
The company said Kamble had not taken proper care of his own life while handling the gun and hence was not eligible for compensation. It also said Kamble was not a registered farmer and thus could not be a beneficiary of the policy.
However, the Kolhapur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum rejected ICICI Lombard’s claims and directed it to pay Tulsabai Rs 1 lakh with 9 per cent interest.
ICICI Lombard appealed to the state commission and challenged the Forum’s order.
The commission upheld the Forum’s order, saying ICICI Lombard’s appeal was devoid of any substance. It also said the deceased was not negligent in any manner. “This is purely a case of accident,” the commission said.
It also agreed that Kamble was a farmer, noting that Ganganbawada’s talati and tehsildar had issued certificates to Kamble’s wife saying she is entitled to compensation since he was a registered farmer.