‘Disburse interim compensation quickly or face action’
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Tuesday asked the Insurance Companies to adhere to the court orders on payment of compensation to flood victim claimants of the State, saying “else it would freeze their accounts and appoint two senior lawyers for disbursement of claims.”
“In case there is non-compliance of Court directions, the court shall not hesitate to appoint two senior lawyers for the purpose of disbursing the amount in favor of claimants after freezing accounts of the companies,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey said in its observation on a related Public Interest Litigation.
Earlier the Supreme Court while dismissing a Special Leave Petition by the Insurance Companies upheld the Jammu and Kashmir High Court order directing the insurance companies to pay 50 percent of insured amount for policies above Rs 25 lakh and 95 percent for policies below Rs 25 lakh as interim relief to the flood-affected people in the State.
The court Tuesday directed the insurance companies to not try to be over-smart to refract its directions, saying if the directions are defied, the companies would court contempt proceedings. “We know it clearly that the companies want their own way to disburse the amount as per the assessment reports and want to defeat the Supreme Court and High court orders, but they won’t be allowed to do so and shall be dealt with strictly,” the bench observed.
Following the submission by the Insurance Companies that they should be given some breathing space to implement the court directions, the bench Tuesday proved obdurate enough in accepting the request.
“More than breathing time has been given to you for filing the data before the court. You had time to file SLP against the High Court order in the Supreme Court but want breathing space to file data before this court,” the bench observed, while directing the Insurance Companies to comply with the court directions or face the contempt of court proceedings.
In his arguments, senior counsel Z A Shah underscored the “dilatory approach” of the Insurance Companies to pay the compensation to the flood affected claimants, pleading the move as a “tactics to defy the directions of Supreme Court and the High Court.” In the wake of submission by senior counsel Bashir Ahmad Bashir that the Insurance companies have proved a remiss in settling the claims relating to damaged vehicles, the bench observed that the Companies can borrow mechanics from outside and depute them in the workshops to settle the claims apace.
Reproaching the Insurance companies for not acting vibrantly to pay amount to the claimants, the court today made it clear if its directions are not implemented it would draw its weapon and use it against the companies.
Previously, the Court had sought compliance report in respect of shopkeepers’ policy concerning Rs 25 lakh and above Rs 25 lakh as well as on polices relating to houses and automobiles in keeping with the orders dated September 26 and October 1.