Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gujarat High court orders govt to form SIT to probe bogus accident claims

The Gujarat high court on Tuesday directed the state government to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) under an additional director general of police (ADGP), to investigate the phenomenon of false motor accident claims, which is a massive scam, involving many stakeholders.
While giving directions for the formation of the SIT, Justice J B Pardiwala quashed the state government’s Special Scrutiny Team (SST), which was formed by a resolution in September 2017, to deal with cases of bogus insurance claims. The HC ordered that the SIT be under ADGP (special enquiries) in line with the decision taken by Uttar Pradesh on directions from the Allahabad high court.

The high court said the ADGP will be free to pick officers of his choice – four inspectors, four PSIs, constables and one medical expert. The SIT will have jurisdiction over the entire state and insurance agencies will not have to go to a police station to register complaints about false or fabricated accident claims.

The HC ordered all district government pleaders and district judges to help the SIT. The SIT will have access to the records of district judges, insurance companies, transport authorities, medical officers and superintendents of hospitals.

While scrapping the SST, which was headed by an SP in rural areas and by a DCP in cities, the HC said the state government’s decision to form an SST “is not going to serve the object of the exercise. On the contrary, it would be frustrated.”

These orders came on a petition filed by ICICI Lombard Insurance Company through its advocate, Devang Vyas. Based on this petition, the HC last year directed the government to take proper action and the SST was constituted. The insurance company objected to the formation of the SST and insisted that only an SIT would serve the purpose.

The state government objected to the demand for the SIT. This led Justice Pardiwala to observe, “I am unable to understand why such resistance is offered by the state government, treating this litigation as adversarial. This is not an adversarial litigation. This litigation should not be understood to be one to deprive a bonafide policyholder of the benefits of the insurance claim, provided it is genuine and not a bogus or a false claim.”

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