The State Consumer Commission has ordered a top insurance company to pay Rs 1 crore to an elderly woman who was denied the claim on the grounds that her son — the policy holder — was murdered by her younger son.
The insurer, Tata AIG General Insurance, claimed that Maya Devi Gupta’s son, Mahesh, had taken the insurance with fraudulent intentions and “misrepresentation of facts”. Therefore, the entire accident guard policy of Rs 1 crore was null and void, the company claimed.
According to Gupta, Mahesh had taken the policy in 2002 and had paid a premium of over Rs 14,000. She was named the beneficiary of the policy.
A few months after he took the policy, Mahesh was shot dead by unidentified persons. Police investigation revealed that Gupta’s younger son, Mahavir, had connived with some of his aides to kill Mahesh in order to claim the insurance money.
In September 2013, Gupta received a letter from the insurance company informing her that her claim was being rejected because, according to police chargesheet, the insurance policy was taken through fraudulent means.
Tata AIG claimed that it was Mahavir who had handed over the policy premium and application forms on behalf of Mahesh. Later, he was chargesheeted for Mahesh’s murder. It also questioned why Mahesh’s wife, Laxmi, was not made the beneficiary of the policy, instead of his mother.
Stating that there is no rule which mandates that the spouse of the insured should be nominated as beneficiary, judicial member N P Kaushik said the company’s objection was without merit.
“It is also wrong to say that the insurance company got to know of the incident late. When the policy holder died, the insurance company was part of the investigations, and as such, they came to know of it immediately after the incident happened. This is evident from the letters and communication with police placed on record,” Kaushik said.
As far as Mahavir’s involvement in the murder, a criminal conspiracy is always hatched in secrecy. Thus, it is not possible to establish what the accused persons were thinking prior to the incident, the commission ruled.
“Absolutely no evidence has come on record to establish that prior to the incident, the accused had ever met or there was any agreement between them to commit this dastardly act,” the commission said.
The trial court had earlier rejected the theory that insurance amount was the motive of murder because if that was the case, then Mahesh would have named Mahavir as the nominee and not his mother.
“After his mother, the amount would have fallen to all legal heirs and not just to Mahavir,” the commission observed. It said the insurance company had committed “grossest deficiency” in not paying Gupta her claim and ordered the company to pay her Rs 1 crore within a month.
- SUMEGHA GULATI