Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Single Judge Bench comprising of V.K Jain, J., dismissed a consumer plaint for claim of insurance.

The respondent owned a vehicle which was insured with the petitioner company for which he claimed reimbursement in respect of the loss suffered by him on account of damage to the vehicle but as the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of intoxicating liquor at the time of accident, the company denied the claim by stating the respondent’s liability under Section 1(c) of the insurance policy,  which states that insurer is not liable in case of any accidental loss or damage suffered whilst the insured or any person driving the private car with the knowledge and consent of the insured was under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

After being dismissed by the District Forum, the claim was finally allowed by the State Commission by way of an appeal and as a resultant, the petitioners filed for a revision.

The prime point for consideration was as to when a person can be regarded under the influence of alcohol in order to hold him guilty for his respective act. The Court appraised Lyon’s Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology report whereby the Blood alcohol of 0.10% was accepted as prima facie evidence of alcoholic intoxication with the prescribed limit for permissible blood alcohol in India being 30mg/100 ml of blood. This was read in consonance with the AIIMS report which expressed that if the quantity of alcohol in the blood was 100 or more mg. /dl (100 ml), it led to blurred vision, unsteady gait and ill coordination.

In this case, the alcohol content of the driver was 103.14 mg /100 ml of his blood, which clearly indicates the influence of liquor at the time he died or got injured taking into account the national limit for permissible blood alcohol.

The Court was of the view that the purpose of the insurer behind excluding such cases was to ensure that the consumption of the liquor did not contribute to the accident. Hence the impugned order was set aside. [Royal Sundaram General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Davubhai Babubhai Ravaliya, 2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 372, order dated 04-09-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of A.K. Goel Chairperson, S.P. Wangdi JM, and Nagin Nanda EM, reiterated its earlier order in regard to Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) being the competent authority to issue licenses and to ensure that no industry producing absolute alcohol functions without such license.”

In the present application, the issue is primarily in regard to enforcement of regulatory mechanism for handling absolute Alcohol or Ethanol. It has been stated that the distilleries which carry on the business of Ethanol production, they only require the approval of Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO). In an earlier order by the tribunal, it had shut down 5 industries in U.P for the same reason of non-attainment of license through PESO.

The tribunal in accordance of its earlier order dated 30-08-2018 gave clarity and stated that industries producing absolute Alcohol are required to comply with the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 along with obtaining license through PESO and till the time the industry doesn’t attain the said license it is prohibited to manufacture absolute Alcohol.[Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE) v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine NGT 275, order dated 24-07-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Canada: The Court addressed an appeal on the challenge being made to Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which subsequently puts Section 134 (b) of Liquor Control Act unconstitutional in nature.

The appeal was filed by a resident of New Brunswick as he was stopped and imposed fine while returning from Quebec for carrying alcohol in excess of the applicable limit. The appellant was charged under Section 134(b). The dispute arose out of Mr. Comeau’s assertion that Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 prevents the province of  New Brunswick from legislating that New Brunswick residents cannot stock alcohol from another province.

The appeal was raised on two issues, wherein it was concluded that the trial judge erred in departing from the previous decisions of this court and Section 134(b) did not infringe Section 121. The Trial Judge found Section 134(b) of no force and therefore dismissed the charge.

The appellant i.e Mr. Comeau advanced a new and radical proposition that “admitted free” in Section 121 meant that provincial laws did not do anything to impede, or made more difficult, the flow of goods across provincial borders, directly or indirectly. He essentially contended that Section 121 was a “free trade” provision that was established to foster the full unimpeded economic integration of the new federation.

However, the appeal when referred to the Supreme Court looked at the various aspects and extent of the mentioned Sections and further stated that Section 121 prohibits laws restricting inter-provincial trade, but only where restricting trade is the laws’ main purpose. Section 121 guarantee free inter-provincial trade. The prohibition that has been mentioned acted like a tariff at the extreme end of the spectrum. Therefore, the Crown’s appeal was allowed. [R v. Comeau, 2018 SCC OnLine Can SC 18, decided on 19-04-2018]