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A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the matter cannot be agitated as PIL under Article 32 since two of the petitioners were persons interested in the issue. Hence, it questioned the logic of making them parties to a PIL.
“We do not see how persons who are interested in the issue could have been made parties in the PIL filed. We are, therefore, not inclined to entertain the present petition as a PIL, in which event the maintainability of the petition under Article 32 at the instance of the petitioner nos. 3 and 4 will be in serious doubts as they have an alternative remedy under Article 226 of the Constitution or to initiate proceedings before the appropriate forum.”
It, therefore, dismissed the matter but gave the petitioners the option to avail other remedies in law.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appeared for Petitioner while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for Central government.
The plea filed by the Moneylife Foundation had sought an immediate recall of the Jeevan Saral Policy.
It was the petitioner’s contention that the Jeevan Saral Policy holders were misled and cheated by LIC. The policy holders get less than half of what they paid as premium for ten or more years. The policy gives negative returns in the higher age group although the person would have purchased the policy for investment purpose, the petitioner contended.
It was further alleged that the policy was designed in an arbitrary manner without proper due diligence and it was sold with inaccurate, faulty and misleading proposal forms. As per the plea, the policy holders were misled into investing Rs. 73,000 crore to Rs. 1 lakh crore.
Though various complaints and representations were made, LIC termed the “gross irregularity” as a “discrepancy” tried to cover up the wrongdoing by writing letters to Zonal Office/ Managers to correct the discrepancies, the petition argued.
The petition also stated that the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) is empowered under Section 33 of the Insurance Act read with the Insurance Amendment Act, 2015 and the IRDA Act, 1999 to investigate the malpractices. However, it has remained a silent spectator of “mass cheating by LIC”, Moneylife alleged.
The unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory manner in which the Jeevan Saral Policy holders have been misled and cheated by LIC has resulted in the violation of their fundamental rights and is in the teeth of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, the petitioner contends.
Regarding its locus to agitate the matter as a PIL, Moneylife had stated that the policy holders are not organised and that they were not in a position to raise the dispute individually.
The petitioner had prayed that a direction be issued to IRDA to immediately recall the Jeevan Saral Policy.
A prayer had also been made to direct LIC and IRDA to amend the policy maturity to repay all the premium paid along with the bank saving rate at 8 percent to all existing Jeevan Saral Policy holders.