The New India Assurance Private Company Ltd, with whom the vessel is insured, had rejected the firm’s plea on the ground that the ship’s log book was not produced.
Disagreeing with the insurance company’s stand, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked it to pay Rs 1,93,39,965.45 to Ceyaki Shipping Private Limited whose vessel MV Comorin Pride’s main deck and the upper deck got damaged during its voyage from Tanzania to Cochin in Kerala.
“Failure of the complainant to produce the original log book and to explain the absence of date on the photocopies is not sufficient to reject the claim which otherwise has been verified by the surveyor appointed by the insurer who had access to the log book of the vessel,” a bench headed by Justice V K Jain said.
The commission said that the report of the surveyor needs to be accepted unless it is shown to be a wholly arbitrary, preverse or untenanble.
“In the absence of evidence to the contrary from the insurer, the cause of the damage accepted by the surveyor cannot be faulted with and needs to be accepted,” it said.
According to the complaint filed by the shipping firm, its vessel encountered bad weather on July 15, 2007 while sailing from Tanzania to Cochin and suffered damage.
The crew had noted substantial deck-side electrical and steel damage on July 17, 2007 but had continued its voyage to the UAE after unloading containers at Cochin.
The vessel was inspected by the surveyor firm appointed by the insurance company.
The insurance company had rejected the claim primarily due to non-availablity of the log book, saying in the absence of this document there was no proper evidence of the exact date of bad weather which caused the damage.
The commission did not accept the insurance company’s argument and noted that in the opinion of the surveyor the damage could be reasonably attributed to the alleged cause.
“The surveyor did not dispute the cause of the damage given by the insured. The surveyor approved what was found to be fair and reasonable cost of repair agreed between the owners of the vessel and the repairers,” it said