Hiding mental ailment costs suicide victim’s kin dear

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) Offering relief to the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), the apex consumer court has overturned the Rajasthan consumer commission’s judgment directing the company to pay the claim after the suicide of a woman whose mental sickness was not disclosed by her husband when buying the policy.

“Ram Kanya Devi suppressed material facts regarding her mental sickness and treatment and on this count…complainants are not entitled to any compensation,” the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said.

The national commission also faulted the state commission and the Bhilwara district consumer forum for entertaining the complaint of Ram Kanya Devi’s family for the Rs.50,000 life insurance claim.

“Under one of the provisions related to the policy, in case of suicide by a woman within three years of taking policy, the insurance company was liable to refund only the premium paid by the insured without interest,” said commission’s Presiding Member K.S. Chaudhari and Member B.C. Gupta in a recent order.

“Perusal of record reveals that proposal for taking the insurance policy was made on March 24, 1992, and policy was issued on Nov 24, 1992, whereas suicide was committed on Aug 28, 1994, in Bhilwara, meaning thereby that the suicide was committed within a period of three years from taking the policy,” the national commission said.

“It becomes clear that as insured Ram Kanya Devi committed suicide within a period of three years from the date of policy, her family are entitled only to the refund of premium paid towards policy and are not entitled to receive the policy amount,” the top consumer court said.

“The state commission has committed an error in dismissing the insurer’s appeal and the district forum has committed an error in allowing the claim seeker’s complaint,” the national commission added.

LIC had moved the national commission against the unfavourable judgment of the state commission based in Jaipur.

Ram Kanya Devi’s husband Ganesh Lal told the national commission that the state commission’s order was in accordance with law and hence the insurer’s revision petition should be dismissed. His plea was rejected.

The national commission said Ram Kanya Devi had signed resolution 4 (b) of the policy which was binding on her and her husband and in such circumstances, her family members “were entitled to receive only premium paid towards this policy and not entitled to the policy amount”.

Ganesh Lal had earlier alleged deficiency in service on LIC’s part for not honouring his claim for his wife’s death.

LIC contested this and said Ram Kanya Devi was suffering from a mental illness and this fact was suppressed while taking the policy.

The company claimed it did not commit any error in repudiating Ganesh Lal’s claim and hence, the complaint be dismissed.

The insurer, however, lost the case in the district forum, which allowed Ganesh Lal’s plea seeking the Rs.50,000 claim.

The district forum told LIC to pay the claim amount along with interest. The company challenged this in the state commission, which also favoured Ganesh Lal.

Ganesh Lal now has the option of challenging the national commission’s vedict in the Supreme Court.

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