A consumer forum in Mumbai, ruling in favour of compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the widow of a farmer whose husband had died in an accident, has directed the state government to pay it in eight weeks, besides 9% interest from the date the plea was filed with the forum in December 2008.
Sulochana Bhosle, from Shirur in Pune, had applied for compensation as per a state government agreement with ICICI Lombard Insurance Company that entitled kin of farmers killed in accidents, between April 2005 and April 2006, to Rs 1 lakh compensation by the insurer.
Sulochana’s husband Dattatray Bhosle died in a road accident said to have taken place on December 18, 2005. Sulochana applied to the company for compensation through the Shirul tehsildar but her plea went unheeded and she sent the company a legal notice to which it did not respond. She moved the consumer court. The Mumbai suburban district consumer forum, presided over by J L Deshpande and N D Kadam, ruled on April 17 that inaction of the insurance company in responding to the plea amounted to deficiency in service.
The company, in its defence, questioned whether such a person could be held to be a “customer” within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 but the forum described the argument as misleading and said the company had breached its contract.
The company also contended that Bhosle had not provided post-mortem report of her husband. The forum said no such argument was made when Bhosale’s application as also the legal notice was sent. Sulochana had demanded compensation with 12% interest per month besides Rs 5,000 as litigation cost. The forum partially allowed her application.