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Legal Section - 2014 C L D 893 [Lahore].

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Insurance---

---Group Insurance Policy, 2008---Group Life insurance for employees--

-Accidental death benefit for legal heirs of employees---Respondents were legal heirs of employee who died when he met with an accident, and were duly paid amount under group life insurance---Respondents had contended that they were also entitled to accidental death benefit; and their constitutional petition in such regards was allowed---Contention of the appellants was inter alia, that at the time of death, the Life Insurance Policy did not cover accidental death benefit---Validity---Accidental death benefit was only available under the group life insurance policy issued by State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan, for the year 2008-09; which expired on 31-5-2009 and when the said group Insurance policy was renewed, it only provided for one benefit, namely insurance claim, which was duly paid to the deceased--

-Group life insurance policy covering the period during which the deceased died, did not provide for accidental death benefit---Impugned order was therefore, not sustainable in the eye of the law and was set aside. [p. 896] A

Umer Sharif for Appellants. Hafiz Khalil Ahmad for Respondents. Date of hearing: 19th June, 2013.

JUDGMENT

IJAZ UL AHSAN, J. ---This Intra Court Appeal under section 3 of the Law Reforms Ordinance, 1972 is directed against a judgment dated 6-11-2012 passed by a learned Single Bench of this Court. Through the impugned order, the appellant has been directed to pay a sum of Rs.500,000 to the petitioners on account of accidental death benefits.

2. The brief facts of the case are that Tanvir Ahmed son of the respondents was serving as a Section Officer (BS-17) under the Punjab Rural Support Programme (PRSP). During the course of his duty, he met with an accident and died on 7-8-2010. The respondents being his parents claimed and were paid a sum of Rs.500,000 on account of group insurance. The petitioners filed an application for payment of an additional sum of Rs.500,000 on account of accidental death benefits in view of the notification dated 13-8-2008 issued by Punjab Rural Support Programme. The said request was turned down vide letter dated 29-8-2011 which led the respondents to challenge the said letter by way of constitutional petition which was allowed by the learned Single Judge through the impugned order.

3. The learned counsel for the appellant submits that the impugned Judgment is unsustainable because of non-impleading the necessary party namely Punjab Rural Support Programme Guarantee Ltd. He submits that the son of the respondents was not an employee of the appellants, who are themselves employees of the said company. He, therefore; submits that the impugned order is liable to be set aside on this ground alone. He further submits that the Punjab Rural Support Programme Guarantee Ltd. is a non-Governmental organization. It is a non-profit organization and does not fall within the definition of "Person" as used in Article 199 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. He submits that the company in question is neither substantially controlled by the government nor is it a statutory corporation performing functions in connection with the affairs of the Federation or the Province. As such it was not amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this Court.

Without prejudice to the afore-noted objections, the learned counsel submits that the learned Single Judge has relied upon an old group insurance policy which was subsequently replaced by a new policy issued by the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan. The policy in question was issued in favour of the Punjab Rural Support Programme Guarantee Ltd. who was the policy holder. The said policy provided for payment of an amount of Rs.500,000 by way of insurance payment to insured employees. He points out that on the dated when the son of the respondents met with an accident i.e. 7-8-2010, the Policy No. SCGP4152 dated 31-12-2009 held the field under which being classified as a professional, the son of the respondents was entitled to receive a payment of Rs.500,000 by way of insurance payment. The said amount was accordingly received from State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan and paid to the respondents vide a cheque dated 15-11-2010.

He submits that other than the aforesaid payment, which was made under the Group Life Insurance Policy, no additional accidental death benefit was liable to be paid to the respondents. The learned counsel further maintains that Punjab Rural Support Programme is a guarantee limited company. It is a non-profit, charitable organization and does not maintain any funds for payment of accidental death benefits nor is there any provision in its memorandum and article of association or contract of source executed with employee providing for payment of such amounts. He, therefore, submits that the learned Single Judge has erred in interpreting the provisions of the insurance policy which on the relevant date only provide coverage to the extent of a sum of Rs.500,000 which was admittedly paid by the insurance company.

4. The learned counsel for the respondents on the other hand has defended the impugned order. He submits that technicalities should not be allowed to come in the way of grant of substantive relief by this Court and to do complete justice. He further submits that the respondents were liable to be paid a sum of Rs.1,000,000 under the insurance policy and that the payment by way of accidental death benefit was liable to be made to the respondents.

5. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and gone through the record.

6. It is a common ground between the parties that the son of the respondents namely Tanvir Ahmed was an employee of the Punjab Rural Support Programme Guarantee Limited which is a non-profit, charitable organization Unfortunately he met with a road accident and died on 7-8-2010. The respondents who are his parents are his only legal heirs. They filed an application with the respondents claiming group insurance dues. The said dues were paid by the insurance company in the sum of Rs.500,000 vide a cheque dated 15-11-2010.

7. The grievance of the respondents was that vide notification/order dated 13-8-2008, contributory benefits and additional provision of accidental death benefit (ADB) was made available to the employees. Such benefit entailed that if an employee died as a result of an accident, an additional amount of Rs.500,000 by way of accidental death benefit was claimed. It appears that the accidental death benefit was available under an insurance policy to employees of Punjab Rural Support Programme in 2008 in the following form:---

"An additional provision of Accidental Death Benefit (ADB) is available i.e. if an employee dies as a result of an accident within 90 days of its occurrence, then an additional amount equal to basic monetary support will be payable."

8. It is significant to note that the said benefit was available under Group Life Insurance Policy for the year 2008-09 which expired on 31-5-2009. When the company renewed its insurance policy on 31-12-2009, it only provided for one benefit namely an insurance claim under a group insurance policy in the sum of Rs.500,000, in case of a professional. Admittedly Mr. Tanvir Ahmed was a part of the professional staff and was accordingly found entitled to payment to insurance claim of Rs.500,000 which was duly paid. The crux of the matter is that the group insurance policy issued by the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan covering the period from 31-12-2009 to 30-12-2010 did not provide for accidental death benefit. Consequently the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan was liable to and actually paid the said amount of Rs.500,000 as per its obligation under insurance policy.

The letter dated 13-8-2008 relied upon by the learned counsel for the respondents which referred to accidental death benefit does not help the case of the respondents in view of the fact that the same related to group life insurance policy taken by Punjab Rural Support Programme Guarantee Ltd. in the year 2008-09. Unfortunately the said insurance policy expired in the year 2009 and stood superseded by the insurance policy had covering period from 31-12-2009 to 30-12-2010 which did not provide for payment of accidental death benefit.

Even otherwise it was never the case of the respondents that Punjab Rural Support Programme was liable to pay the said amount from its own sources in view of the fact that the accidental death benefit or the insurance claim, whichever payable, was to be paid from funds received from the insurance company which as stated above was not obliged to pay accidental death benefit under the insurance policy which was in-vogue on 7-8-2010 when the son of the respondents met with the unfortunate accident.

9. In view of the foregoing, we find that the order passed by learned Judge in chambers is not sustainable at law. Accordingly this appeal is allowed and the impugned order dated 6-11-2012 is set aside.

10. No order as to costs.

KMZ/P-23/L

Appeal allowed.
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Publication:Insurance Journal
Date:Dec 31, 2015
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