NCDRC | What factors are to be considered to ascertain whether a discharge voucher in full and final settlement was signed voluntarily or undue influence? Commission considers

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): C. Viswanath (Presiding Member) observed that:

“Conduct of the insured becomes relevant on the facts of each case to ascertain whether the discharge voucher in the full and final settlement was given  voluntarily or there was coercion or undue influence on the Complainant.”

The instant application was filed under Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s Order.

Complainant had obtained “Standard Fire and Special Perils” Insurance Policies for stocks of cotton etc. and plant and machinery. Due to a fire break out at the complainant’s factory, huge stock of cotton got damaged.

Surveyor assessed the loss at Rs 32,92,525 only, though the total loss suffered was to the tune of Rs 99,45,286. Complainant submitted that since he was facing financial difficulties he accepted the settlement offered by the OP and executed the Indemnity Bond and Discharge Voucher in the name of OP.

Further, alleging the deficiency in service by OP, he filed a Complaint before the State Commission.

Aggrieved by the State Commission’s Order, complainant preferred the present appeal before this Commission.

Analysis and Decision

Bench noted that in several insurance claim cases under the Consumer Protection Act, it has been held that if a Complainant satisfies the Consumer Forum that Discharge Vouchers were obtained by fraud, coercion, undue influence etc., they should be ignored, but if they were found to be voluntary, the Complainant will be bound by it resulting in rejection of the Complaint.

“…mere signing of Discharge Voucher will not bar the Complainant/Claimant from raising a dispute before this Commission.”

 Commission further stated the only question to be addressed is whether the Discharge Voucher was signed under undue influence or coercion?

Whether the Complainant received Rs 39,72,829 towards full and final settlement or under protest pending investigation?

Further, respondents counsel submitted that there was a clarity expressed to the Complainant that unless the Discharge Voucher was signed, payment would not be released and therefore, the Discharge voucher was signed under coercion.

Bench while concluding held that “If at all the Complainant had an objection to the nature of the settlement, he should have recorded the same while signing the settlement”, hence no infirmity in the State Commission’s order was found.

In light of the above, the instant appeal was dismissed. [Arihant Industries v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 8, decided on 04-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

For the Appellant: S.M. Tripathi, Advocate

For the Respondent: Nanita Sharma, Advocate

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