C.A. Hydrose Vs. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. and Ors. - (High Court of Kerala) (20 Jun 2022)
Court cannot interfere with the discretion exercised by the Ombudsman in the award of interest and the date on which it is made payable
The Petitioner has preferred present writ petition being aggrieved by award passed by the Insurance Ombudsman, Kochi declining to grant interest on the award amount from the date of filing the petition. It is submitted that, the Ombudsman ought to have ordered interest on the award amount from 25th May, 1997, the date of preferring the claim petition.
In compliance with award, the Petitioner submitted letter of acceptance within the time stipulated therein. As per the award and the RPG Rules, the insurer shall comply with the award within 15 days of the receipt of acceptance letter and shall intimate the compliance to the Ombudsman.
There is no justification whatsoever on the part of the insurer in not complying with the award within 15 days of receipt of the acceptance letter. The acceptance letter was withdrawn by the petitioner only on 1st September, 2012, six months after sending the acceptance letter, that too, after letters calling upon the insurer to comply with award. The insurer cannot, now, take a stand that they need not comply with award since the letter of acceptance has been subsequently withdrawn by the Petitioner.
With regard to the claim of the Petitioner for interest from the date of the claim petition, it is to be noted that the Petitioner has accepted award by the letter of acceptance. As per Rule 16(5) of Insurance Ombudsman the Redressal of Public Grievances Rules, 1998, the complainant shall furnish to the insurer within a period of one month from the date of receipt of the award, a letter of acceptance that the award is in full and final settlement of his claim. The award includes interest and when a letter of acceptance is given in full and final settlement of the claim, the Petitioner cannot challenge the award to the extent it denied interest from the date of filing the claim petition.
It is trite that, grant of interest, even in the absence of specific provision for granting interest, is a matter left with the discretion of the Courts or Tribunals. This Court cannot, therefore, interfere with the discretion exercised by the Ombudsman in the award of interest and the date on which it is made payable.
The insurer cannot contend that since the letter of acceptance has been subsequently withdrawn, they shall not comply with the award. The parties cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time and when the insurer has taken the stand that the Petitioner has accepted the award in full and final settlement, they cannot contend that they will not comply with the award as the letter of acceptance was withdrawn. Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed in part with direction to Respondents 1 and 2 to comply with award within a period of two months.
Tags : LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE AWARD COMPLIANCE