Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Pushpa Sathyanaryana, J. while hearing a petition praying for mandamus against an insurance company, directed the said insurance company to honour the claim of petitioner in respect of her insurance policy.

Petitioner and her husband had applied for a home loan for which they were to be sanctioned a sum of Rs 35,00,000. The loan policy also covered critical illness diagnosis cost. Petitioner’s husband suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died. Petitioner filed a claim petition seeking claim amount but it was denied on grounds that her husband’s death was not covered under major medical illness. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

Learned counsel for the petitioner S.R. Raghunathan argued that the respondent’s argument which stated that massive cardiac arrest did not come under the purview of major medical diagnosis was absolutely false. They were just trying to save themselves from providing rightful insurance claims. He relied on the case of LIC of India v. Asha Goel, (2001) 2 SCC 160 to buttress his argument.

Learned counsels for the respondents S. Manohar and K.J. Parthasarathy contended that the respondent company was not “State” under Article 12 of Constitution of India and therefore the writ petition was not maintainable under law. Secondly, they alleged that the cause of death did not fall within the covered claims.

Issue: Whether a writ petition is maintainable to enforce a contractual right of an insurance claim?

The Court opined that Article 226 of the Constitution of India could be invoked not only for infringement of fundamental rights but also for any other purpose. Thus, the question that required determination was whether private bodies performing public duties can be brought within the purview of judicial review. It considered the judgment in LIC v. Escorts Ltd., (1986) 1 SCC 264 where the Supreme Court while considering activities of LIC, which comes under the purview of public law, observed that “a Court will examine actions of State if they pertain to the public law domain and refrain from examining them if they pertain to the private law field…. The question must be decided in each case with reference to the particular action”.

The Court remarked that notwithstanding the law on the subject, in reality, there is no parity and balance between the insurer and insured. In many cases, the individual has no legal knowledge about the ambiguous language used in the company’s policy with an intention to waive them from the liability to pay the injured on happening of an agreed event. Many times the companies willfully neglect reimbursing the insured, who instead of getting their amount from the company have to pay the Courts for getting their rights enforced. The case on hand is the classic example of the same.”

 It was opined that the “malpractice and arbitrary use of power by the insurance companies must be restrained by incorporating provisions to reduce the chances of ambiguity at a later date. Or else, the insurer would continue to take advantage of the insured by falsely repudiating the claims made by the insured”.

It was noted that as per Section 3 of the policy in question the medical event of ‘Myocardial Infarction’ was covered under the Policy. Though the cardiac arrest suffered by the husband of the petitioner fell under the abovesaid medical event, the respondents were denying the rightful claim to the insurance cover. The Court asked for a medical report to clear the doubt whether massive cardiac arrest comes under major medical diagnosis, and after a perusal of the said report, it was concluded that the cause of death of the insured was well within the defined medical events prescribed in the policy.

As a concluding remark, the Court urged that insurance companies must focus on educating their customers about the financial backing and this must be done by issuing magazines, booklets and visual contents.

The petition was allowed and the respondent company was directed to honour the claim made by the petitioner without insisting for any further documentation or particulars, in accordance with the law.[Jasmine Ebenezer Arthur v. HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 2246, decided on 06-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary exam paper leak controversy, the 3-judge bench of Rajesh Bindal, Tajan Gupta and GS Sandhawalia, JJ, has constituted a 3-member Special Investigating Team comprising of Ravi Kumar Singh, IPS, Superintendent of Police (Crime and Investigation); Krishan Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Security & Operation) and Inspector Poonam Dilawari.

Earlier, the counsel appearing for the High Court had urged before the Court that if the investigation is to be done by a Special Investigating Team then it should be done by senior officers only. Hence, the Court had, on 15.09.2017, asked Randeep Singh Rai, Public Prosecutor, UT Chandigarh to furnish a list of senior officers who can be a part of the SIT.  Consequently, Tejinder Singh Luthra, Director General of Police, U.T., Chandigarh, appeared in person and he, along with Randeep Singh Rai, submitted a list of officers.

On 15.09.2017, the Court had also suspended Dr. Balwinder Sharma, Registrar (Recruitment) after the Recruitment/Promotion/ Court Creation Committee (Subordinate Judicial Services) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, submitted in it’s report that there was, prima facie, material suggesting that he was involved in the paper leak as there were total 760 calls and SMSs exchanged between Dr. Balwinder Sharma and Sunita, one of the canditates who has allegedly leaked the paper, during last one year.

On 14.09.2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a public notice stating that it has scrapped the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary Exam held on 16.07.2017 in the light of the paper leak allegations. The date of re-exam will be notified soon. [Suman v. State of Haryana, CRM-M No.28947 of 2017, order dated 18.09.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary exam paper leak controversy, the 3-judge bench of Rajesh Bindal, Tajan Gupta and GS Sandhawalia, JJ, has suspended Dr. Balwinder Sharma, Registrar (Recruitment) after the Recruitment/Promotion/ Court Creation Committee (Subordinate Judicial Services) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, submitted in it’s report that there was, prima facie, material suggesting that he was involved in the paper leak.

On 13.09.2017, it was submitted before the Court that there were total 760 calls and SMSs exchanged between Dr. Balwinder Sharma and Sunita, one of the canditates who has allegedly leaked the paper, during last one year. The Committee had recommended the Court that since atleast two candidates namely Sunita and Sushila had the question papers, the possibility that other candidates may have also had access to the question paper cannot be ruled out and hence, an FIR should be lodged against Sunita, Sushila and Dr. Balwinder Sharma.

The Court, after considering the fact that the exam was held in Chandigarh and the alleged conversations and Transaction also took place in Chndigarh, directed that the FIR be registered in Chandigarh. The Court also made it clear that the investigation in the matter will be done by Chandigarh Police only.

Accepting the contention of the counsel appearing for the High Court that if the investigation is to be done by a Special Investigating Team then it should be done by senior officers only, the Court asked Randeep Singh Rai, Public Prosecutor, UT Chandigarh to submit a list of senior officers who can be a part of the SIT. The Court now hear the matter on 18.09.2017.

On 14.09.2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a public notice stating that it has scrapped the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary Exam held on 16.07.2017 in the light of the paper leak allegations. The date of re-exam will be notified soon. [Suman v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2340, order dated 15.09.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In the matter where 2 candidates who had topped the Haryana Civil Services (Judicial) examination in General & reserved category, were alleged to have leaked the paper for money, the 3-judge bench of Rajesh Bindal, Tajan Gupta and GS Sandhawalia, JJ had asked the Recruitment/Promotion/ Court Creation Committee (Subordinate Judicial Services) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to submit a report on the matter.

As per the prima facie finding of the Committee, some of the candidates had access to the question paper and hence, it recommended scrapping of Haryana Judicial Services preliminary examination held on 16.7.2017. It was said that since atleast two candidates namely Sunita and Sushila had the question papers, the possibility that other candidates may have also had access to the question paper cannot be ruled out.

According to the finding of the Committee, there were total 760 calls and SMSs exchanged between Dr. Balwinder Sharma, Registrar (Recruitment) and Sunita, one of the canditates who has allegedly leaked the paper, during last one year. It was hence, recommended that disciplinary action against Dr. Balwinder Sharma, be taken and he should be transferred forthwith from the post pending further action. It was further recommended that FIR be registered for further probe regarding leakage of question paper.

The Court, hence, asked the Registrar (Vigilance) of the High Court to direct the service providers of the mobile connections of all the persons involved at this stage to preserve the call details, messages exchanged and any further data available with them with reference to those telephones for a period of one year.

On 12.09.2017, the Supreme Court had refused to transfer the matter to Delhi High Court.

The Court will now hear the matter on 15.09.2017. [Suman v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2313, order dated 13.09.2017]