The Supreme Court, in Gurshinder Singh vs Sriram General Insurance Co Ltd., has referred to a three-judge bench the question whether delay in informing the insurance company about the theft of vehicle would debar the insured from getting the insurance claim.
The Bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta noticed the conflicting views taken by earlier two judge benches after the counsel for petitioner and respondent relied on two decisions of the apex court which gave contradictory decisions on the question.
In a recent judgment, in Om Prakash vs Reliance General Insurance, a two-judge bench observed that though the owner has to intimate the insurer immediately after the theft of the vehicle, this condition should not bar settlement of genuine claims, particularly when the delay in intimation or submission of documents is due to unavoidable circumstances.
But in a judgment delivered in 2010, another two-judge bench in Oriental Insurance Co Ltd vs Parvesh Chander Chadha,  had reversed the findings of consumer fora and observed that on account of delayed intimation of theft to insurance company, the insurance company cannot be saddled with the liability. The bench held that the insured was duty bound to inform the insurer about the theft of the vehicle immediately after the incident.
Referring to these decisions, the bench said: “In view of the conflict of views expressed by two Benches of this Court consisting of two learned Judges each, we are of the opinion that the matter requires to be heard by a Bench of 3-learned Judges. The matter be placed before Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for constituting a 3-Judge Bench to resolve the conflict.”