A single bench of the National Commission comprising of Justice C. Viswanath has observed that the report submitted by a surveyor is an important piece of evidence and has to be given due weightage and can only be ignored if there is any other cogent evidence otherwise. Further, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the amount assessed by the surveyor is to be accepted.
The Appellant is a proprietor of M/s Britolite Industries, engaged in the trading business of acrylic sheets, off cut and rods in the wholesale and retail market. The Appellant took Standard Fire and Special Peril Policy from Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent”) for an amount of Rs. 1.1 Crore. That during the existence of the Policy, a fire broke out at the insured premises on 19.10.2011. The Respondent was informed regarding the same and thereafter surveyor of the respondent visited the premises to access the loss. According to the Appellant goods worth Rs. 26,90,000/- were lost in the fire however, as per the report of the surveyor dated 14.02.2012 the loss of the Appellant on account of damage to the Stock was to the tune of Rs. 94,611/-.
Thereafter, the Appellant filed a consumer case before the Hon’ble State Commission on the ground of deficiency of service on the part of the Insurance Company. Hon'ble State Commission dismissed the complaint on the ground that the Appellant failed to adduce any documentary evidence establishing a loss of Rs. 26,90,000/-. Aggrieved by the said order of the State Commission, the Appellant filed an Appeal before the Hon'ble National Commission.
Before the Hon'ble National Commission, the Appellant submitted that State Commission did not consider the documents filed by the Appellant and made observations contrary to the records that the Appellant had not filed any supporting documents. Such, a non-consideration of documents resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice and solely relied upon the Survey Report without examining the merely speculative reasons.
Thereafter, Respondent submitted that the State Commission rightly relied upon the Survey Report, wherein after detailed consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Surveyor assessed the loss at Rs. 94,611/-. That from the perusal of the record of the State Commission it shows that the Appellant had not filed the stock register, sales and purchase register and also failed to submit the delivery challan, freight receipts and Form No. 402 before the surveyor to establish the genuineness and authenticity of purchases. Further, the Appellant himself stated before the Fire Brigade Officer at the time of the incident that he suffered an approximate loss of Rs. 1.00 lakh in the fire. Thus, in the absence of any evidence in rebuttal on the part of the Appellant contrary to the Survey Report, the State Commission had rightly dismissed the Complaint.
Hon’ble National Commission relied upon the Judgement of the Supreme Court of India wherein it was observed that,
“Once it is found that there was no inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance of the duties and responsibilities of the surveyor, in a manner prescribed by the Regulations as to their code of conduct and once it is found that the report is not based on adhocism or vitiated by arbitrariness, then the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum to go further would stop.”
After hearing the counsel of both the side, the National Commission stated that it is a settled proposition that the report submitted by a surveyor is an important piece of evidence and has to be given due weight, though it is not sacrosanct and can be ignored, provided there is cogent evidence otherwise. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the amount assessed by the Surveyor, as has been accepted by the Insurance Company is to be accepted. Consequently, the allegation of the Appellant that the Surveyor arbitrarily reduced the assessment amount does not stand and is rejected.