NEW DELHI: The convention that the FIRs cannot be a piece of evidence in criminal case has to be relaxed for settling consumers' claims pertaining to theft of insured vehicles, the National Consumer Commission has said.
“It is true that an FIR lodged with the police cannot be treated as evidence in a criminal case...in a consumer case, these strict requirements of proof are to be modulated appropriately,'' the Commission headed by Justice S N Kapoor said.
For settling claims against stolen insured vehicles, the panel said strict procedures, applied in criminal trials, needed to be relaxed and FIRs could be considered as evidence if they conclusively detailed circumstances leading to the theft.
The observations came on two cross appeals filed by the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd (OICL) and the owner of a stolen vehicle against the judgement of Punjab State Consumer Commission. Joginder Singh, the owner of the insured jeep, had filed the appeal seeking enhancement of the compensation of Rs 3.37 lakh, awarded earlier by the State Commission.
On the other hand, the OICL had sought setting aside of the State commission's judgement on various grounds including that the jeep, which was insured as private vehicle, was used for commercial purposes. The OICL disputed the factum of theft alleging nexus between the owner and the thief. The apex consumer panel set aside the orders of both -- Moga District Forum and Punjab Consumer Commission -- which directed the insurance company to pay Rs 3.37 lakh along with interest against the claim of Joginder and allowed the OICL to decide the issue on its own. - PTI