Archive for August, 2013

India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier warship INS Vikrant

INS Vikrant to be launched today


Kochi: Its flight deck is over twice the size of a football field, its power unit can light up the entire Kochi city and the cabling is enough to cover the distance between here to Delhi.
    India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC), to be launched here Monday, is the biggest warship to be built in the country and will make it the fifth country to have capacity to build such huge vessels. Being built at Cochin Shipyard Limited, the IAC is expected to be a centrepiece of Indian Navy’s power in the coming years and will be equipped with modern weapons systems including long range surface-to-air missiles and close-in weapons system. The aircraft carrier will be launched into water Monday by Elizabeth Antony, wife of defence minister A K Antony.
    The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, MiG-29K combat jets and a range of helicopters will be deployed on the carrier. AGENCIES

INS Vikrant is India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - August 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm

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Insurer cannot deny claim by summarily changing terms

Background: Insurance firms unilaterally change policy terms at the time of renewal and reject claims or pay a limited amount on the basis of revised conditions. This is not permissible.

Case Study: Gadiwalla, his wife, son and daughter were covered under a mediclaim policy from United India Insurance, which was first taken in 2002 and renewed over the years without break.

In 2008, Gadiwalla’s son was diagnosed with having to be suffering from erythrodermic psoriasis. The treatment is infliximob induction therapy that comprises a series of injections to be taken over a period of time. Each injection is given intravenously and its administration takes over three hours. There is a risk of adverse reactions that can even result in the patient’s death. Hence, a patient receives treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) where he/she can be continuously monitored. The claim for the first three rounds of treatment was paid by the insurance company. The claim for the fourth round was rejected on the grounds that hospitalization was not necessary as the injection could have been administered as a clinical procedure in the out-patient department (OPD).

Gadiwalla then noticed that the insurance company had surreptitiously changed the policy terms and conditions without his knowledge or consent. The revised policy put him at a disadvantage as it imposed restrictions on the amount payable for certain operations, including major surgeries, and discontinued the no-claim bonus.

Gadiwalla along with the Consumers Welfare Association filed a complaint before the south Mumbai district forum. The insurance company contested the case and contended that the earlier claims had been paid according to the policy conditions prevalent then, but was no longer payable as the policy terms had been revised. The company claimed that it had the right to alter the terms and conditions at the time of renewal. The forum considered the case of Bimal Krishna Bose vs United India Insurance Co Ltd [III (2001) CPJ 10 (SC)], where the Supreme Court had interpreted “renewal” as “repetition of the original policy that gets extended for a further period on identical terms”. Although a new contract may come into existence on renewal, it would be on the same terms and conditions as the original policy.

In its June 10 judgment delivered by president S .M Ratnakar and member S S Patil, the forum held that changing the policy conditions arbitrarily would constitute an unfair trade practice. The forum directed the insurance company to renew the policy in accordance with the original conditions in force on February 21, 2002, when it was first issued. In connection with the rejected claim, the forum observed that Dr Arsiwala, who was an expert doctor treating Gadiwalla, had certified the necessity of administering the treatment in the ICU. Even the company had earlier paid identical claims for the same treatment, so there was no reason for taking a contradictory stand now to reject the claim. The forum, therefore, ruled that the claim would be payable and directed the insurance company to pay Rs 87,143 along with interest at 9% per annum from September 17, 2009 17.09.2009 till it is paid.

Since the treatment is of a recurrent nature, requiring the injection to be taken periodically, the forum further directed that subsequent claims for the same treatment should not be rejected on the same grounds, viz. that it could have been taken in the OPD. The forum also awarded Rs 5,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as costs and gave the insurance company a month to comply with the various directions given.

Conclusion: An insured can refuse to accept unilateral changes in policy conditions that are detrimental to his/her interests. The forum can also restrain the insurance company from using the same excuse to wrongly reject subsequent claims, which may recur in future.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:48 pm

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Renewing policy? Company can’t hike premium

Insurance companies cannot load premium due to adverse claim ratio.

Background: It is illegal to refuse renewal of a policy. So, when an insurance company does not want to renew a policy that has become onerous, it adopts the back-door method of loading the premium excessively, making it unaffordable for the insured, who may then volluntarily opt out.

In a ruling on June 19, 2013, the South Mumbai District Forum ordered an insurance firm to refund the excess premium charged through loading.

Case Study: Praveen Shah was insured under a Mediclaim Policy with New India Assurance from 1988. The premium for 2007-2008 was Rs 10,508. Subsequently, Mediclaim Policy 2007 was introduced. At the time of the next renewal for 2008-2009, the insurance company loaded the premium and charged Rs 22,545, which was more than double the previous year’s premium. In 2009-2010, the premium was further increased to Rs 21,357.

For 2010-2011, the premium was once again loaded and increased to Rs 45,320, making it more than double the previous year’s premium. Thus, from 2008 onwards, the premium was time and again increased arbitrarily at the time of each renewal.

Shah sent various letters protesting against the increase of premium through loading. He even took up the issue with the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), but his pleas fell on deaf years. He then approached the Consumers Welfare Association for help. The association, along with Shah, filed a joint complaint before the consumer forum for South Mumbai District, challenging the premium hike.

The insurance company contended that Shah had lodged three claims totalling Rs 2,72,004 for the treatment of his wife, who was also covered under the policy. Due to this, Shah’s claim ratio was 66%. The insurance insurance firm defended itself and justified its action by arguing that the premium had been rightly loaded and 15% co pay had also been introduced in view of the adverse claims experience.

The insurance company also claimed that the premium was calculated as per Regulation 7 framed by IRDA and relied on “premium rules”, which it claimed were annexed to its reply, but were actually not filed. The insurance company also contended that once the insured crosses the age of 70 years, the applicable premium will be loaded by 2.5% each year. The insurance company claimed that its actions were justified under the revised terms of the policy introduced in 2007.

The forum observed that the premium rules had not been filed by the insurance firm. However, on going through Regulation 7 of the IRDA Protection of Policyholders Interest Regulations 2002, no such provision could be found that permitted the insurer to load the premium.

The forum also relied on earlier judgments on the same issue where it had been held that loading of premium was not justified. Also, in the case of Biman Krishna Bose v/s United India Insurance, the Supreme Court had held that a renewal of an insurance policy means repetition of the original policy on the same terms and conditions as that of the original policy. Since the original policy did not have any clause permitting loading of premium, the insurance company cannot be permitted to change the policy terms and conditions to impose such loading.

Accordingly, in its judgment delivered on June 19, 2013, by S S Patil on behalf of a bench comprising himself and president S M Ratnakar, the forum ruled that the insurer was not authorized to load the premium and enhance it unilaterally and arbitrarily. The forum held this to be deficiency in service and an unfair trade practice. It, therefore, directed the insurance

company to refund a total of Rs 57,898, which was the excess amount of premium charged over a period of three years through loading. Interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of each loading till its refund was also awarded. In addition Rs 15,000 was awarded as compensation and Rs 5,000 as costs.

Impact: Loading of premium through unilateral change of policy terms and conditions is an unfair trade practice. The insured can challenge it and get a refund.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:46 pm

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Consumer fora can hear telecom rows

In an unprecedented and first-of-its-kind case, the Maharashtra State Commission constituted a special five-member bench to answer a reference whether telecom disputes are maintainable under the CPA. This required to be done since two different smaller benches had given conflicting rulings on the issue. The confusion arose because of a Supreme Court judgment in the case of General Manager Telecom v/s M Krishnan, where it was held that a dispute between a telegraph authority and a consumer is not maintainable under the CPA and requires to be decided through arbitration.

The massive 29-page landmark judgment was passed by the Maharashtra State Commission after hearing the advocates for MTNL, BSNL and Bharti Airtel and the representative of Bombay Telephone Users’ Association, which had intervened in the matter and argued on behalf of all the consumers. The judgment, which was delivered on November 6, 2012, by Justice S B Mhase along with judicial members S R Khanzode and P N Kashalkar and non-judicial members Dhanraj Khamatkar and Narendra Kawde, was recently made available.

In its judgment, the state commission distinguished why telecom disputes would be maintainable despite the Supreme Court ruling. Under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, the central government has the exclusive right to maintain telegraphs, which includes telephones. It can also issue licences to third parties for providing this service. Companies that provide telecom services to consumers are licencees, to whom certain powers have been delegated. They cannot be termed Telegraph Authority. This interpretation was supported by the decision of the Bombay high court in the case of Bharti Tele ventures v/s State of Maharashtra in writ petition no. 7824/05. Since service providers are not Telegraph Authority, the provisions of Section 7 B would not be attracted, as it is applicable only when one of the parties to the dispute is a Telegraph Authority.

The state commission also considered several other Supreme Court judgments, including the case of Kishore Lal v/s Employees’ State Insurance Corporation decided by a larger bench of three judges. The continuous trend was that a beneficial legislation like the CPA provides an additional remedy and it should be liberally construed. Hence, the jurisdiction of the consumer fora cannot be curtailed unless there is an express bar prescribed under a particular enactment.

The state commission also observed that in order to extend the benefits of the CPA, it would have been necessary to amend various other existing laws. To overcome this difficulty, Section 3 of the CPA provides that it would be “in addition to and not in derogation of any other law”. This makes the CPA a “legislation by incorporation”, where the provisions of the CPA would be automatically read into and considered to be a part of the earlier legislations. The provisions of the CPA would therefore be treated as if incorporated in the Indian Telegraph Act, and consumers availing of telecom services would be entitled to file consumer complaints.

The state commission also observed that the dispute of M Krishnan, decided by the Supreme Court, was an old one. Subsequently, a revolution had taken place in the telecommunication system due to liberalization and grant of licences to companies for whom it was a profit-making business. To regulate the industry, the Telegraph Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act 1997 had been brought into force. Section 14 of this Act provides that the complaint of an individual consumer would be maintainable before the consumer forum. (The provisions of this law were not considered by the Supreme Court).

The state commission, therefore, held that consumer fora had the authority to adjudicate disputes filed by individual telecom consumers.

It is also to be noted that Regulation 25 of the Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulations, 2007, also stipulates CPA to be the remedy for an individual telecom user.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:43 pm

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Consumer fora can initiate ‘contempt of court’ as well

Subject: Allahabad high court rules that consumer forums can also initiate contempt proceedings.

Backdrop: There are several rulings that consumer fora are not courts, but are quasi judicial tribunals for redressal of grievances. The Consumer Protection Act provides for its own hierarchy of appeals. Administrative control is exercised by the National Commission over the State Commissions, which in turn oversee the functioning of the District Forums under them. Because of this, it is believed that the Contempt of Courts Act is not applicable to the consumer fora.

Case Study: The Muzaffarnagar District Consumer Forum had lodged a complaint with the Allahabad HC that Advocate Anil Kumar Jindal had committed contempt of the Forum. The Allahabad HC then initiated proceedings against the advocate for criminal contempt. Jindal objected, claiming that the proceedings were non-maintainable. His argument was that Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act empowers the HC to punish a person for contempt of a court subordinate to it. He contended that the District Consumer Forum is neither a court nor is it subordinate to the HC.

The Additional Government Advocate, however, argued that the contempt proceedings are maintainable as the consumer forum has all the trappings of a court and is subordinate to the HC.

To decide the legal controversy, the HC analyzed the law and its interpretation. The word “court” is not defined under the Act and its meaning would have to be culled out on the basis of various pronouncements by the SC.

In the case of Virendra Kumar Satyawadi v/s State of Punjab, an SC bench considered the characteristics of a court. It held that a court has a duty to decide disputes in a judicial manner and declare the rights of parties in a definitive judgment. Judicial adjudication requires the parties to be heard in support of their claims and to produce evidence. The dispute has to be decided in accordance with law by considering the evidence. An authority or a tribunal would be considered a court only if it fulfils all these attributes.

Going by this definition, even a Returning Officer deciding on the validity of the nomination papers under the Representation of People Act is considered to be a court. Similarly, even an Assistant Registrar under the Cooperative Societies Act is considered to be a court under the Contempt of Courts Act.

The Consumer Protection Act vests the redressal agencies with the power to decide consumer disputes following a summary procedure. Disputes are decided, just like a court. The term “court” has to be interpreted in its generic sense. Whether the consumer forum is actually a court or not is immaterial. What is relevant is that it exercises judicial power akin to a court. Hence, the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act would be applicable.

The next question was whether the consumer fora could be considered subordinate to the HC. Article 227 of the Constitution of India provides the HC with the power of superintendence over all the courts and tribunals within its territorial jurisdiction, except those constituted under any law relating to the Armed Forces.

The SC, in S.K. Sarkar v/s Vinay Chandra, had observed that the term “subordinate court” is wide enough to include all courts which are judicially subordinate to the HC, even though administrative control over them may not vest in the HC. In view of this, an Administrative Judge has been assigned under the Allahabad HC Rules, to review judicial work of subordinate courts, tribunals, district consumer forums and other special courts.

The HC accordingly held that the consumer forum was subordinate to it.

Thus, over ruling Advocate Jindal’s legal objections, the HC held that it could proceed against him for committing criminal contempt. The proceedings will now consider factually whether contempt has been committed. [Judgement of the Allahabad HC dated 10.09.2012 delivered by Justice Ashok Pal Singh for the Bench comprising of Justice Dharnidhar Jha and himself in Contempt Application (Criminal) No. 3 of 2012 in the case of Anil Kumar Jindal & Ors.].

Impact: Those who misbehave in the consumer forum thinking that it is powerless to take action for contempt, will now have to exercise self-restraint.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:41 pm

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Consumer fora cannot decide onpower theft assessment disputes

Consumer protection

Disputes regarding assessment for electricity theft not maintainable under Consumer Protection Act (CPA) as there is no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice.

Background: Consumer fora used to entertain disputes regarding assessed bills for electricity theft. But, a couple of years ago, the SC restrained the fora from finally deciding such complaints till its ruling on the maintainability of such disputes. In its July 1 judgment, delivered by Justice Sudhansu Mukhopadhaya for a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi, the SC held that such disputes cannot be adjudicated by the consumer fora. (UP Power Corporation Ltd & Ors v/s Anis Ahmad—Civil Appeal Nos 5467 to 5475 of 2012.) The remedy would lie before the special courts constituted under the Indian Electricity Act. The consumer fora can only deal with complaints pertaining to deficiency in service or unfair trade practice. What are the implications of this judgment for the consumer?

Case Study: Anis Ahmad and other consumers of UP Power Corporation had filed complaints before the district forum challenging the assessed bill raised against them for theft of electricity. The corporation challenged the maintainability of such complaints before the fora. The Moradabad District Forum, Uttar Pradesh State Commission and the National Commission held the complaints to be maintainable. The corporation moved the SC.

The SC observed that to file a complaint under the CPA, a person must be a consumer and there must be an allegation that the goods are defective, or there is a deficiency in service, or that unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice has been adopted, or that the goods or services are hazardous or that the charge is in excess of the price declared or fixed by law.

In the case before the SC, Ahmad and others, who had filed the consumer complaints, had industrial connections meant for commercial purpose. Since the complaints in respect of commercial purposes were excluded under the CPA, the SC ruled that the complaints were not maintainable before the consumer fora. Besides, none of the persons had alleged any deficiency in service or unfair trade practice, but had merely disputed the final order of assessment in respect of unauthorized use or theft of electricity.

The SC also observed that the provisional assessment is subject to a final assessment by the assessing officer after giving notice to the person who is supposed to have indulged in unauthorized use or theft of electricity. The Electricity Act also provide for an appellate authority to challenge the final assessment. The court ruled that the since the assessing officer is a public servant and his assessment is a quasi-judicial decision, any dispute regarding the assessment would not constitute a consumer dispute.

Under the Electricity Act, illegal use and electricity theft attracts a civil consequence of levying a charge at twice the applicable rate, and a criminal prosecution where the offender can be punished with imprisonment or fine or both. Special courts have also been constituted under the Electricity Act for speedy adjudication of such disputes.

The SC said even though the CPA offers an additional remedy, and the Electricity Act provides that in the event of a conflict between the two Acts, the CPA will prevail, it would not vest the forum with the jurisdiction to decide disputes regarding assessment for unauthorized use or electricity theft. It held that both the Acts run parallel. The fora can decide an electricity dispute only if it relates to deficiency in service, unfair trade practice or overcharging.

Conclusion: The SC judgment does not debar consumer fora from adjudicating complaints regarding supply of electricity, so long as the dispute fits within the four corners of the CPA. In short, if a consumer makes out a case of deficiency in service, over-charging, unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice, consumer fora can adjudicate the dispute.

Background: Consumer fora used to entertain disputes regarding assessed bills for electricity theft. But, a couple of years ago, the SC restrained the fora from finally deciding such complaints till its ruling on the maintainability of such disputes. In its July 1 judgment, delivered by Justice Sudhansu Mukhopadhaya for a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi, the SC held that such disputes cannot be adjudicated by the consumer fora. (UP Power Corporation Ltd & Ors v/s Anis Ahmad Civil Appeal Nos 5467 to 5475 of 2012.) The remedy would lie before the special courts constituted under the Indian Electricity Act. The consumer fora can only deal with complaints pertaining to deficiency in service or unfair trade practice. What are the implications of this judgment for the consumer?

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:39 pm

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Not only banks, employees too liable for deficiency in service

Background: Officials of banks and PSUs fail to improve their attitude and are not perturbed by litigation, as they feel that it is the organization which will be held liable while they will go scot-free. Dealing this complacent attitude a major blow, the South Mumbai Consumer Forum has held bank officials liable jointly with the bank of deficiency in service and unfair trade practice.

Case Study: The Greater Bombay Co-operative Bank had acquired a flat in a building at Murbad in Kalyan under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Ordinance. In its advertisement issued in a local newspaper, the bank announced the auction sale of this flat, representing that the built-up area was 360 sq ft and the expected price as Rs 3,29,000. Sanjay Pendurkar successfully bid for the flat, which was then sold to him for Rs 3,29,000. The bank’s authorized officer executed a sale deed in Sanjay’s favour and handed over all the relevant documents to him on November 30, 2010.

Soon after taking possession, Sanjay had the flat measured and found that its carpet area was only 195 sq ft, while its built-up area was 234 sq ft, not 360 sq. ft as advertised by the bank. He promptly sent a letter on December 8, 2010, requesting the bank to cancel the sale and return the amount paid by him. The bank ignored Sanjay’s letter.

A few months later, on March 6, 2011, Sanjay came across an advertisement in Nav Shakti newspaper for the auction sale of the same flat which had been sold to him. The only difference was that the built-up area of the flat was stated to be 222 sq ft, for which the expected price was Rs 2,22,000. Sanjay was shocked because he was in possession and occupation of this flat which had already been sold to him.

Sanjay had a legal notice issued to the bank for the intentional misrepresentation of flat’s area, thereby inducing him to pay Rs 1,07,000 more, under the wrong impression that the size of the flat was larger. The bank ignored the notice as well as a subsequent reminder.

Apprehensive that the bank would continue with the auction and evict him forcibly so that it could hand over the flat to whoever would succeed in the fresh auction, Sanjay filed a consumer complaint before the South Mumbai District Forum, against the bank, the manager of its Bhuleshwar branch and its authorized officer. The forum served a notice, yet the bank and its officials did not care to appear or file their reply.

The forum compared the two advertisements issued by the bank for the auction of the same flat. In its ex parte order of June 29, 2013, delivered by presiding officer S M Ratnakar on behalf of the bench, along with S S Patil, the forum observed that the first advertisement stated the built-up area to be 360 sq ft, while the subsequent one stated it was 222 sq ft. The forum concluded that the bank had made a misrepresentation about the area and had over-charged Sanjay. Comparing the expected price advertised by the bank in the two advertisements, the forum found the difference to be Rs 1,07,000. It held that the bank as well as its officials were guilty of deficiency of services and unfair trade practices.

Accordingly, the forum held the bank, its Bhuleshwar branch manager Karadikar and authorized officer Rajesh Gujar jointly liable to a refund Rs 1,07,000, along with 9% interest from the date of the sale certificate till its refund. Additionally, costs of Rs 5,000 were awarded to Sanjay. The forum also held that the issuance of a notice for a public auction without cancellation of the sale certificate would constitute an encroachment on Sanjay’s right and title to the flat. It, therefore, permanently restrained the bank and its officers from dispossessing Sanjay from the flat.

Impact: The forum judgment holding the officials liable should shake up complacent officials and hopefully bring about an attitudinal change.

 

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:36 pm

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Alcohol on breath doesn’t imply being drunk: Consumer panel

Subject: The smell of alcohol does not establish intoxication.

Backdrop: A casual noting in a hospital record uncorroborated by medical tests, cannot be used to reject an insurance claim.

Case Study: Suresh owned a Skoda which was insured with Oriental Insurance Co. The car was totally damaged following a highway accident in 2008. An FIR was lodged over the incident. The car was later repaired by an authorized Skoda dealer at a cost of Rs 10,46,961.

Despite filing an insurance claim with all supporting documents, Suresh’s claim was rejected on grounds that the driver and other passengers in the vehicle were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. Suresh immediately wrote back pointing out that this was incorrect. Since the insurance company did not respond, Suresh filed a complaint before the Additional Consumer Forum for Bangalore.

The insurance firm contested the case saying that the claim lodged was for an amount that exceeded the declared value of Rs 7,55,556 under the policy. The liability of the insurance company cannot be more than the insured amount. Also, the estimate for repairs had been submitted but the actual bills had not been furnished. The investigator appointed had reported that Suresh and the vehicle’s other occupants were under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred. Another investigator reported that there was a noting in the hospital’s accident register that Suresh’s son and two other occupants of the vehicle were found to be disoriented, their breath smelt of alcohol, and their speech was slurred. The insurance company contended that the claim had been rejected in accordance with policy terms and conditions.

The District Forum observed that sections 185 and 202 of the Motor Vehicles Act provide that a driver would be considered intoxicated only if he is tested and found to have more than 30 mg of alcohol in his blood, per 100 ml. In the present case, except for a casual noting in the hospital register, no test had been done to ascertain whether alcohol had exceeded the legally stipulated limit. The mere smell of alcohol cannot lead to an inference that a person is incapable of taking care of himself. The Forum ruled that the a claim could not be rejected on the basis of an unscientific method.

It also observed that the claim would be restricted to the sum insured, subject to a deduction for the salvage value and adjustment as per excess clause requiring the insured to bear a part of the loss. It held that Suresh would be entitled to Rs 6 lakh along with 9% interest from the date of claim, awarding an additional Rs 3,000 as costs.

The insurance company appealed to the Karnataka State Commission which concurred with the view taken by the District Forum and dismissed the appeal. But the insurance company challenged the orders by filing a revision petition before the National Commission. According to the insurance company, there was a delay of 76 days in filing the revision, whereas the actual delay was of 131 days for which no satisfactory explanation was given. The Commission said that this revealed a casual attitude. It castigated the insurance company for over burdening the courts despite two concurrent adverse findings against it through well reasoned orders of the lower consumer fora. It dismissed the petition with a direction to pay Rs 5,000 as costs to the Consumer Welfare Fund. (Judgement dated 7.5.2013 in the case of Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v/s M. Suresh in Revision Petition No. 881 of 2013)

Impact:This judgement lays down that a person cannot be said to be intoxicated unless alcohol level exceeds the prescribed limit which can only be confirmed through a medical test. Also, well reasoned orders should not be challenged to drag litigation.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:31 pm

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A consumer can approach a forum even if his claim has been rejected by the Insurance Ombudsman

‘Death due to fall after slipping is an accident’


    A fall at home due to slipping of foot is an accident and claim is payable under an accident policy.


    Background: When an old person slips at home, resulting in subsequent death, can the insurance company reject a claim on the presumption that the fall was age-related and hence the death was due to a natural cause? In a recent judgment delivered by S M Ratnakar, along with member S S Patil, the South Mumbai district consumer forum ruled that a claim cannot be rejected on such a pretext.


    Case Study: Dr Shirish Vakil had taken Janata Personal Accident Insurance Policy from National Insurance Co when he was 69 years old for a period of 12 years (November 12, 1997-November 11. 2009) with a sum insured of Rs 5 lakh.
    Shirish, though retired, was in good health. On November 3, 2009, he slipped and fell at home. The fall impacted the rear portion of his head, making him feel giddy. There was no serious injury visible externally. But at night, his condition deteriorated and he was taken to Bhatia Hospital, where a CT scan was done. Due to want of beds, he was shifted to Harkisandas Hospital, which registered a medico-legal case and informed the police. He was diagnosed to be having an introcerebral or intracranial bleed. On November 6, Shirish succumbed to injuries.
    His son, Sunil, then claimed the sum insured. But the firm rejected it, contending that the fall was due to giddiness, an age-related problem, and hence the death could not be termed as accidental. Sunil moved the Insurance Ombudsman, which upheld the firm’s contention. He then filed a complaint through
the Consumer Welfare Association. The firm said a claim under the policy would be payable if the insured sustains bodily injury, resulting solely and directly from the accident caused by outward violent and visible means.
    The forum observed it would require to consider whether Shirish’s case amount to an “accident” as interpreted by the National Commission in the case of Reeta Devi v/s National Insurance Co. Ltd. [IV (2007) CPJ 355 (NC)]. The forum noted that the CT scan mentions subdural hematoma of 0.8cm, also seen in left frontoparietal lobe region. The hospital records clearly show “intracerebral bleed”. Statement of the domestic servant present at the time of incident, as recorded by the police, also showed that Shirish’s foot had slipped in the bedroom. The forum said the records establish that the fall was accidental. Hence, the forum ruled that the claim was payable, and that its wrongful rejection constituted a deficiency in service and also an unfair trade practice.
    The forum held that the Insurance Ombudsman order would not act as an impediment to the proceedings before it, as this question had already been settled by the National Commission. Accordingly, it directed the firm to pay the sum insured along with interest at 6% pa from December 7, 2009, till payment. In addition, Rs 20,000 compensation was awarded for harassment and Rs 3,000 as costs.


    Conclusion: A consumer can approach a forum even if his claim has been rejected by the Insurance Ombudsman. Under an accident policy, a claim for any injury or untoward incident caused by outward violent and visible means is payable.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 6:26 pm

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India in the 1940s: The way we(Indian) were

Memory is a powerful thing. When we look six decades back, we’re filled with an unparalleled sense of pride at the epic movements of history that brought us to this stage. But what about the little details?
We gathered fragments – stories from people’s lives, clippings from old newspapers and

photographs from dusty albums and strung them together to bring you an essence of how we lived from 1940-49…

FIRST PERSON ACCOUNTS

1. TARA GANDHI BHATTACHARJEE [Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter]

People see Gandhi as the Father of the Nation, but I knew him as a doting grandfather. As kids, we looked forward to his evening prayers with a sense of enthusiasm and entertainment. Every moment of being with Gandhi was an adventure.

He was often travelling through Delhi and since papa [Devdas Gandhi] edited a nationalist daily (The Hindustan Times) in Delhi, Bapuji and Ba stayed with us.
Initially, we lived at Kingsway Camp and subsequently moved into a big house at Connaught Circus, in the same premises as the newspaper’s printing press. The roaring press machines were like lullaby music for us.

Bapu liked to stay in Harijan bastis, ashrams or prisons. That’s where our holidays were spent. We used to visit him in a prison, or at a station if his train would pass by.
Once we visited him at Pune’s Aga Khan Palace, where he was kept under house arrest. Kasturba was ill and looked frail. I must have been 10. Ba looked at me and said, “I have a gift for you.” When I saw the khadi sari, the first of my life, with its embroidered border, I was so thrilled I wanted to run away with it. Bapu didn’t encourage gifting among family. “You won’t ask me to give it to anybody else?” I asked. At that time Bapu was spinning the charkha and he nodded. It meant the world to me.

My father was fond of eating out. We’d go to the Old Delhi Railway Station, buy a platform ticket and eat in the dining hall. Those were the best meals I’ve ever had.
My first lessons in etiquette were courtesy Bapuji. Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the Labour Party, was in India with the Cripps mission. Bapu introduced me to him and said, “Please meet my granddaughter, she is the daughter of my youngest son.” I was proud to be shaking hands with an Englishman for the first time. I thought it was an opportune moment to display my English-speaking skills. So, when Sir Cripps asked, “How do you do?” I broke into a long story about how I had fever the previous day and how I couldn’t go to school. Bapu took me aside and said in Hindi, “When someone says ‘How do you do’, never give them so many details about your health.” I was shattered. Not only had I failed in English, the man who placed such emphasis on health had asked me not to give out such detail. Every letter Gandhi wrote, whether to Lala Lajpat Rai, or Leo Tolstoy, or Nehru, started with a line enquiring about their well-being.

I remember January 30, 1948 clearly. I was in class 8 and was busy with homework. Then the phone first rang and someone said: ‘Bapuji par goli chal gayi’. The person called again. The third time I realised he was serious. My parents rushed to Birla House and there I saw my father sobbing and Nehruji sitting quietly. My father, in tears, came up to me and said, “Taru, Bapuji ko pranam karo”. Then the entire world seemed to have gone into mourning.
(as told to Aasheesh Sharma)

15th August 1947, Independence Day celebrations at Rajpath, New Delhi. Photo: Nehru memorial museum and library

2. SYDNEY REBEIRO
[Former professor of English and dean (Culture) at Delhi University]

Ours is a fifth-generation Delhi family. My father’s family moved to the Walled City area in 1909, two years before the Delhi Durbar was established.

My father was employed with the Pune Rifles. We lived in what was Delhi’s most culture-rich and education-rich square mile. It had the Civil Lines, Hamilton Road, Tees Hazari and Kashmere Gate. It is in Kashmere Gate that the setting up of Delhi University was proposed by Viceroy Daniel Isaacs, which the British opposed. The Dara Shikoh library and the district courts were here. The Delhi Polytechnic (which later became the Delhi College of Art) was also in the area, so was Hindu College and the new St. Stephen’s building. 

We stayed in a building called Rahman Manzil. Our neighbour and family friend was the author Nirad C Chaudhuri, who at that time worked as a clerk with All India Radio located on Alipur Road, where the Clarks Maidens Hotel used to stand.

I was born in 1942, the year of the Quit India Movement. In 1946, there was talk about India breaking free from the shackles of the British. The Anglo-Indians were caught in a unique situation. The general public perceived us to be close to the British because of our European lifestyle. But we were not entirely accepted by the British. I used to say Anglo-Indians were the most thoroughbred half-castes in civilisation. Well, we have managed beautifully, producing a Cliff Richard and a Ruskin Bond.

Our family chose to stay back. In 1940, my mom was appointed the first postmistress of India and my father got a deputation with the Delhi Improvement Trust which would carve out the New Delhi district and go on to become the DDA. Mom, referred to as ‘dak khane ki memsaab’ by colleagues, stood out when just one per cent of India’s workforce was female.

Established in the 1930s, the Gidney Club in Connaught Circus was where the Anglo-Indian community met and celebrated Christmas and anniversaries and attended the May Queen Ball. Ritz Cinema was next door to us. I remember watching The Adventures of Captain Marvel here. The Hindi cinemas in our neighbourhood were Novelty and Minerva and I was a big Dev Anand fan. Kashmiri Gate also had the Carlton Restaurant. It is here that the famous Rudy Cotton band, led by one of as one of India’s greatest jazz saxophonists, performed live.

On 15th August, 1947, there was electricity in the air. We attended a special service at St James (Delhi’s oldest church set up in 1836). After a meal at Carlton, we bought a tricolour and proudly displayed it from our window. Rahman Manzil was lit up with hundreds of lamps and people burst crackers and lit sparklers to ring in a pre-Diwali Diwali. We had a party at home. At that time we didn’t have proper record players, so someone began strumming a guitar. Even as a four-year-old, I knew it was a special day. The image of a tricolour fluttering out of our window has always stayed with me. 
(As told to Aasheesh Sharma)

ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM: A father and a son pose with volunteer scouts, as crowds (many on bicycles) throng the Red Fort to celebrate Independence Day on August 15, 1947

3. SM SIBTAIN
[Former deputy director, Delhi Public Library]

I was seven years old when India gained independence in 1947. The Mazarul Islam School, Farashkhana (near Chandni Chowk) where I studied, gave us tricolour toffees as part of the celebrations.

We led a different life – we learnt the alphabet with slate and chalk (slates were cleaned with multani mitti).

My mother wore ghararas at home and my father, who worked in the Municipal Committee, wore a khaki hat to work and a felt hat for special occasions.
Though we had electricity at home since the late 1920s, we only had a few pedestal fans. Ceiling fans were not available in the market. The old-fashioned, big hand-pulled pankhas mounted on the walls and khus-khus pardahs kept the heat out. Kerosene lamps lit up the evenings.

Tongas were the preferred mode of transport since buses and cars were very few. Women hardly ventured out, and even if they had to go across the street, a doli was called for. However, this changed post-Independence as dolis disappeared overnight, and my mother visited the market in a hand-pulled rickshaw.

Cooking was a different ritual. You had to blow at the fire to start the chulha, and all the masalas were ground by hand. There was meat every day – made with vegetables or in the form of mouth-watering nihari.

On Fridays, when the butcher shops would be shut, there would be khichdi for lunch, which made all the kids upset.
The radio was a source of entertainment. However, we were more interested in playing hide and seek and gilli danda than cinema or music. A plane passing overhead was the highlight of the day for all children!

Of course, there was a flipside to Independence too – the chaos that the Partition brought with it. As Faiz said, it was a “dagh dagh ujala…”.
(As told to Zehra Kazmi)

WHAT WE SPENT AND HOW WE SPENT IT

Paper money in the 1940s, printed at the Currency Note Press in Nasik, featured the face of King George VI. By August 1940, when a new Re 1 note was introduced during war time, notes displayed a new feature – the security thread. After Independence, it was felt that the King’s portrait be replaced by a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. The |consensus moved to the choice of the Lion Capital at Sarnath in lieu of the Gandhi portrait, according to the Reserve Bank of India website. Since 1835, Re 1 equalled 16 annas. By 1957, Re 1 equalled 100 naya paise and eventually today’s regular paise.

Value for money


Gold prices

As of 1947, the price of 10 grams of gold was Rs. 88.62. Today it is closer to Rs. 29,000.

The dollar rate
It was exactly $1 = Re 1. You read right; one rupee was equal to one US dollar in value as at Independence, there were no external borrowings on India’s balance sheet. Devaluation began with the first five-year plan. Today one US dollar is close to Rs. 61.

What Re 1 could buy
The average yearly inflation for 1948-2013 is 6.55 per cent. So what cost Re 1 in 1947, now costs about Rs. 59.27, an increase of 5827.00 per cent.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Shaving blade: 7 o’clock slotted blades, double edged, were priced at 12 annas for a packet of 10
Book: Tenali Rama by ASP Ayyar, Rs. 2
Rain Coat: Rainy Coat (water-proof) from Cooch Behar Industries Rs. 4
Radio: Emerson Radio (Model 517) Rs. 175
Tobacco: Ogden’s Coolie Cut Plug tobacco (Rs 3/4 per 4oz tin)

THE WAY WE DRESSED

According to textile historian Rta Kapur Chishti, author of Saris of India, the contemporary urban style, or the five-and-a-half-metre drape in which the pallu goes front to back across the left shoulder, became the standard for working women across India after Independence. But the style has its genesis in the late 19th century.
“It is said that Gyanodanandini, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, the elder brother of Rabindranath, went with her civil servant husband to Bombay around the 1860s and adopted the Parsi way of wearing the sari. At that time, the local Bengali style wasn’t considered elegant for outdoor wear (it wasn’t worn with a petticoat and blouse). Gyanoda even opened a school in Calcutta to teach draping styles,” says Chishti.

After Independence, young women began experimenting with more salwar-kameez styles

Textiles expert Jasleen Dhamija shifted to Delhi in 1940 from Abbotabad in Pakistan. “My family had links with the Congress. We didn’t wear synthetics and my sister wore khadi,” says Dhamija, 79. She recalls how the elite and the royalty wore chiffons and nylons and the aam aadmi donned mill-made dhotis. Saris could have been sourced from mills or from local weavers. But with the chiffon classes, the urge to ape Europe was apparent. “Saris looked like curtains since the patterns were filched from wallpapers and bathroom tiles,” she says.

After Independence, the young Dhamija became more experimental. In 1948, when she was in college at Miranda House, she and her friends visited Pahar Ganj. “We bought the fabric that wives of workers used for odhnis and lugdis and created salwar-kameezes.”

HOW THE READING HABIT GREW

We didn’t read much – we couldn’t. The adult literacy rate in 1941 was 16.1 per cent (it is now 74.04 per cent). But Indian writing of the time was tinted with the advent of Marxism on the literary scene in the 1930s. Writers were re-examining their relationship with social reality. Here are some works published in the ’40s for some perspective:
Twilight in Delhi (1940) by Ahmed Ali: It is the story of Mir Nahal and his family – an upper middle class Muslim household in the now old Delhi. This was also the first novel to call for freedom from British rule.

The Sword and the Sickle (1942) by Mulk Raj Anand: The final part of a trilogy, it is about a Sikh sepoy, who after fighting in France and being imprisoned in Germany, comes back to India. The book also deals with the rise of Indian Communism.

The English Teacher (1945) by RK Narayan A semi-autobiographical book, it is about an English teacher in Narayan’s fictionalized town, Malgudi, and how he deals with the death of his wife.

IT ALL ADS UP TO MARKETING

The early decades of the twentieth century had seen the entry of several new advertising firms, both Indian and foreign. Most ads were published in English language newspapers. They were neatly laid out, mostly typographical and featured excellent illustrations.

some ADs from newspapers of 1947

By the 1940s, the ads reflected the nationalistic spirit of the decade. The quality of life in the ’30s and ’40s had considerably improved. Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were big markets for most products and hence, for advertising in general. As the middle class rose, the advertising focus shifted from luxury goods to convenience-driven consumer goods. Ads for foreign products made by foreign ad agencies were also Indianised. Lux signed actress Leela Chitnis to endorse the soap in 1941, the illustrations in the ads were also made to look Indian.

REIGN OF MELANCHOLIC MELODIES

Actor-singer KL Saigal ruled the ’40s like a collossus, says historian Pran Nevile. “His popularity didn’t diminish with his death in 1947. Noor Jehan was the most popular leading lady. After 1947, she moved to Pakistan and Suraiyya took her place.” A few big hits of 1947 included these:

1. Yahan Badla Wafa Ka from JUGNU, Singers: Mohd Rafi and Noor Jehan, Composer: Feroze Nizami, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
One of the first hits of Mohd Rafi, the duet was picturised on Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan. The lyrics are remembered even today.

2. Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon Dil-e-Beqarar Ka from DARD, Singer: Uma Devi, Composer: Naushad, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Sung by Tun Tun, the well-endowed comedienne, the mellifluous song was composed by Naushad. Shakeel Badayuni’s words were full of longing. Sample this: Ji chaahataa hai munh bhi na dekhun bahaar kaa.

3. Hum Dard Ka Afsana Duniya Ko Suna Denge from DARD, Singer: Shamshad Begum, Composer: Naushad, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Sung in Shamshad Begum’s inimitable voice, it is filmed on orphaned children. The words tug at the heart strings: Ham par bhee karam karna, ham tum ko dua denge. Poignant!

4. Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya from DO BHAI, Singer: Geeta Dutt, Composer: SD Burman, Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
O chhod ke janewale aa in Geeta Dutt’s soulful voice had the nation singing the blues.

5. Sunday Ke Sunday from SHEHNAI, Singers: Meena Kapoor and Chitalkar Ramchandra, Composer: C Ramchandra, Lyrics: PL Santoshi
Comic and entertaining, it was soon ruling the charts!

Movies, monsoon, Magic: The scene outside Mumbai’s Metro cinema, shot in 1947. The Regal and Eros were the other other popular theatres where both English and Hindi movies ran to packed houses


CINEMA, CINEMA, CIRCA 1947

Going to the movies was one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the late 1940s. Delhiites flocked to Regal, Rivoli, Plaza and Odeon. Mumbaikars bought tickets at The Regal, Metro, Liberty and Eros. Here are some of the biggest grossing movies of 1947 (tales of the freedom struggle are conspicuous by their absence).

Top 6 grossers of 1947
* Jugnu: Rs. 50 lakh
* Do Bhai: Rs. 45 lakh
* Dard: Rs. 40 lakh
* Mirza Sahibaan: Rs. 35 lakh
* Shehnai: Rs. 32 lakh
* Elaan: Rs. 30 lakh
(Earnings in net gross; source: boxofficeindia.com)

1. JUGNU
Cast: Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan Director: Shaukat Hussain Rizvi Music: Feroze Nizami
Synopsis: Dilip Kumar’s father is a Rai Bahadur who lives in a palatial house with a chauffeur and attendants but is on the lookout for a family that would shell out (incredible as it may sound!) two lakh rupees in dowry for his eligible son. The leading lady Jugnu (Noor Jehan) is asked to sacrifice her love by her boyfriend’s mom. And so the story ends on a tragic note, as was the case in many movies of the 1940s.

Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan in Jugnu, one of the biggest box-office success of 1947. A campus romance, the film’s music and strong social subtext with an anti-dowry message stood out even then

Watch it for: Noor Jehan’s singing, the rakish looks of young Dilip Kumar and the way the film tackles the subject of dowry. A young Mohammed Rafi does a cameo as Dilip Kumar’s hostel mate!

2. DARD
Cast: Badri Prasad, Suraiya, Munawwar Sultana Jehan
Director: Shaukat Hussain Rizvi Music: Feroze Nizami
Synopsis: The love triangle is the story of an orphan who is indebted to the nawab who adopts him and helps him become a doctor. The nawab’s daughter likes him, but he falls in love with the daughter of a patient.

Watch it for: The beautiful talaffuz in chaste Urdu: Sample how Suraiya pampers Sultana. “Hamam tayyar hai. Ghusal karlo, behen,” she says, when her bath is ready.

3. MIRZA SAHIBAN
Cast: Noor Jehan, Trilok Kapoor Director: K Amarnath
Music: Pandit Amarnath and Husnlal Bhagatram
Synopsis: Mirza, once the naughtiest boy in the village, falls in love with Sahiban. But Mirza’s arch enemy is also head-over-heels in love with Sahiban and is irked that she prefers Mirza. He takes advantage of village gossip to fuel Sahiban’s brother’s anger against the couple. They are forced to separate. The couple try to get back together, but like all old love stories, their love is doomed.

Watch it for: The beautiful music and Trilok Kapoor (Prithviraj Kapoor’s brother and a thoroughbred Kapoor). See it as a precursor to Bollywood’s affair with classic love stories such as Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal.

4. SHEHNAI
Cast: VH Desai, Indumati and Kishore Kumar
Director: PL Santoshi
Music: C Ramchandra
Watch it for: The jazz-influenced compositions of C Ramchandra which were like a spot of sunshine in the otherwise gloomy film music scene. The song Aana Meri Jaan, Sunday Ke Sunday became an anthem for the young at heart.

THE WAY INDIA NAMED ITS LANDMARKS IN DELHI

These landmarks that add to New Delhi’s splendour had very English-sounding names. But they were symbols of the British Raj, and we Indianised them. 

* Rajpath: This sprawling boulevard was known as King’s Way. 
* Parliament House: Formerly the Council House, this building was designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker – responsible for the planning and construction of New Delhi. Covering nearly six acres, its diameter is 560 feet. 
* India Gate: With a height of 42 metres (designed by Lutyens), it was known as the All-India War Memorial, and has the names of the Indian soldiers who died during World War I etched on its surface. 
* Rashtrapati Bhavan: Designed by Lutyens, this structure has four floors and 340 rooms, and was known as the Viceroy House. 
* Janpath: An important part of Lutyens’ design of Delhi, it was known as Queen’s Way.

IN MUMBAI

In 1947, Bombay was still part of the Bombay Presidency. Now-defunct addresses reflect the life of the time.
* Banian Road: From Bania, a trading caste who had houses there.
* Beef Lane, Bhajipala Street, Dukar Wady, Kasai Street, Kitchen Garden Lane, Milk Street and Mutton Street: Areas that had butcheries, vegetable bazaars, piggeries, produce gardens, buffalo stables or meat shops.
* Depot Lane: It led to a night-soil depot situated at the end of the lane and was known among residents as name Hagri Galli.
* Garibdas Street: “Garibdas” meant “your humble servant ” and appeared to be a coveted title for a Bombay landlord to own.
* Gunpowder Road: Named after the powder magazine there.
* Palki Gully: So called because palanquins, used by Khojas at weddings, were kept here for hire. 
* Scandal Point: A popular place to rendezvous.

THE WAY WE TRAVELLED

Back then, if you had wheels perhaps you’d already know what freedom would taste like. Cars were symbols of prosperity. Trams chugged along our roads, new bus routes were being charted out, streets were filled with people cycling to work. The tonga was another favoured mode of transport.

The horse carriage was a preferred mode of transport, though now it serves mostly as a tourist attraction.


THE FLAVOURS DILLIWALLAS SAVOURED

The first 10 years of the Nehruvian period from 1947 to 1957 were decisive in shaping what the city would acquire a taste for. Partition refugees brought with them the tandoor. “The idea of eating home-cooked food prepared at the roadside by another refugee family at a moderate price appealed to homeless refugees. This was the genesis of Delhi’s dhaba tradition,” says food historian Pushpesh Pant.

Kebabs, burra and Kandhari food became the staple at restaurants. At the same time, original Dehlavi food survived this onslaught – poori, bedami and methi ki chutney still tickled the palate of Old Delhi families. But people were acquiring a taste for paneer and maa ki dal. A favourite with those who relished a mean maa ki dal was Moti Mahal in Darya Ganj, recall old-timers. Monish Gujral, grandson of KL Gujral, credited with popularising the Peshawari delicacy, says the Darya Ganj restaurant, set up in 1947, was a social leveller. “Till then, fine dining was restricted to Europeans and Indians with titles. Moti Mahal opened its doors to all classes: a restaurant where an auto driver could be seen dining with an industrialist,” says Gujral.

Embassy Restaurant was a favourite with many Delhi families.

Once the refugees found their feet in the city, the action shifted back to Connaught Place. Wenger’s was popular with lovers of good confectionery. Even as the elite coveted a table at Gaylord’s, government servants did not shy away from Kwality, which set up shop in 1939. Pant recalls how his father celebrated his confirmation as a Gazetted Officer at Wenger’s as a live band played. Embassy was the place to head for when the family had to be treated to an elegant Indian repast. And United Coffee House, which opened in 1942, was the haunt of the arty crowd that loved its juke box.

HOW MUMBAI DINED

The good news is that the Bombaywalla was no stranger to eating out, even in the 1940s. Pancham Puriwala, right opposite the GPO at Fort, was serving up meals back then. Colaba was home to The Wayside Inn, where Dr Ambedkar drafted nearly half of India’s Constitution at a table in the late ’40s. Cafe Royal opposite The Regal was popular with locals and the iconic watering holes Leopold Cafe (which had opened in 1871 as a general store) and Cafe Mondegar were thriving.

In Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar, the flourishing cotton trade of the previous decades meant a steady inflow of traders from Gujarat. Single, male and on a budget, they’d find sustenance at little dining halls that served home food for a few annas a day. In 1945, Govindram Shankarji Joshi and four of his friends from Rajkot started The Friends Union Joshi Club, an eating house with a monthly meal service.

In the new, ordered suburb of Matunga, you could get a full South-Indian meal at Mani’s Lunch Home (which opened in 1937) or Rama Nayal Udipi (which opened in 1942). For a Sunday evening sundae, it was Bachelorr’s on Marine Drive. And for anyone with cash, there was always the plush Taj Mahal Hotel.

PRICES
* A plate of mutton biryani at Britannia & Co, Mumbai was Rs. 2.50. Today, Rs. 400
* At Manis Lunch Home, Mumbai, a Set Meal cost only 6 aanas. Now it costs Rs. 120
* A coffee cost just 90 paise at United Coffee House. Now it costs Rs. 115. A chicken sandwich here cost just 90 paise then. Now it costs Rs. 125 
* Four dozen lemon tarts cost only Rs. 4 at Delhi’s Wenger’s Bakery.

THE ARTS AND THE CITY

The year 1947 was a moment of great nationalistic fervour tinged with the trauma of Partition. The zeitgeist of the 1950s was a turning point of sorts in the development of contemporary Indian art, say experts. “It was the beginning of a new introspection after the Bengal School Revival,” says Virendra Kumar Jain, 80, owner of Kumar Gallery, set up in 1955, arguably one of the first to show leading artists such as MF Husain.

From the archives: Virendra Kumar of Kumar Gallery with MF Husain in the early 1950s

Apart from Kumar, the Dhoomimal Art Gallery patronised artists such as Jamini Roy since the 1930s. “After the Partition, I had my first brush with artists from the Government College of Art, Lahore. It included people like Satish Gujral, BC Sanyal, PN Mago and Dhanraj Bhagat. They held their first show in the early 1950s at the Freemason Hall in Janpath, next to the Imperial Hotel, which managed to draw in only a few visitors,” recalls Kumar.
 
With the setting up of the Delhi Shilpi Chakra Group in 1949, the art scene in Delhi perked up. “The coffee house on Janpath was an intellectual hub. It is here that one ran into a Husain chatting over coffee with Kulkarni or BC Sanyal,” recalls Krishen Khanna, one of the pioneers of the Indian art movement.

Khanna, 87, recalls the euphoria of freedom and the anguish of Partition in August 1947 and has captured some of it on canvas. “I was 21. We listened to Pandit Nehru’s speech and looked forward to a golden era. One didn’t envisage the mess we would be in at that time,” he says with a chuckle.

Khanna has fond memories of a joint show with Husain in Delhi’s All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society. “Husain Saab and I went back a long way. Till the time he bought his apartment in the upmarket Nizamuddin East, which became a hub for artists, musicians and dancers in the city, he used to come and stay with me at my father’s Mathura Road residence.”

At a time when private patrons in Delhi were few and far between, State patronage was also gaining momentum with the setting up of the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1954.

To life and freedom: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, considered the architect of independent India, addresses people at the Red Fort on Independence Day. The mood was upbeat and the nation looked towards the future with tremendous optimism.

SOURCES:
1. OK Tata, 1946 by Abhi Calcuttawala, Outlook Traveller (travel.outlookindia.com), January 1, 2012
2. Wholesale Price Index (WPI)
3. Office of the Economic Adviser, Government of India
4. Reserve Bank Monetary Museum, Fort, Mumbai,
5.  Tasveer Ghar, A digital archive of South Asian digital visual culture (Tasveergharindia.net)
6. Census of India (censusindia.gov.in)
7. presidentofindia.gov.in
8. indiagate.org.in
9. parliamentofindia.nic.in
10. Bombay place-names and street-names; an excursion into the by-ways of the history of Bombay City (1917)
11. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
12. National Film Archive, Pune
13. Hindustan Times Photo Archive

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