J&K HC asks for survey samples; Counsel seeks 50% amount for flood sufferers as interim relief

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Wednesday directed insurance companies to bring some samples of cases where survey vis-à-vis losses due to floods has been conducted so that the court may analyze whether interim relief would meet ends of justice for the flood-hit people of Jammu and Kashmir or some other course needs to be adopted.
A division bench of Justice M M Kumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey passed the direction on an application moved by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) seeking to revisit the procedure in assessing the loss caused by the floods that hit the Valley on September 7, causing widespread devastation to properties and businesses.
While counsels representing the insurance companies apprised the court that in case of Uttarakhand, 50 percent of the assessed amount was the parameter adopted for awarding the interim relief which was paid within one week to the affected people, Senior Counsel Z A Shah—representing the KCCI—argued that the situation is different in Kashmir.
Shah argued that buildings in Kashmir are still under water along with stocks and that the number of claims is so huge that even the interim survey report would take two years for the limited number of surveyors. “The Bajaj Allianz has only 90 surveyors to assess the claim of 10,000 persons,” Shah pleaded.
He argued that on the basis of sum assured, 50 percent amount should be released with a stipulation so that final claim would adjust the interim relief either way. Following the arguments by the parties, the Bench directed the counsel for the insurance companies to seek instructions on the issue of awarding interim relief on the assured amount to the affected claimants.
“The reason for such an approach is that in many areas the water has gone up to 12 feet and the whole assured stock has been damaged,” the Bench observed. It said that various articles have been touched by the flood water and the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir has issued an advisory not to touch these as these may be contaminated and cause health problems.
“In such a situation, it has to be found by the insurance companies whether there could be any possibility of deviating from the assured amount on the basis of adopting yardstick of interim report by the insurance companies,” the Bench said.
On September 22, the High Court issued notices to all major insurance companies operating in the flood-affected state to file objections to a PIL seeking implementation of norms adopted in Uttarakhand for settling the claims. The insurance companies were directed to show-cause why the formula implemented in calamity-hit areas like Uttarakhand last year should not be applied in flood-affected Jammu and Kashmir as well.
A PIL has been filed by Advocate G A Lone and Advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganie seeking systematic distribution of relief and prompt assessment of loss caused by the flood.
Meanwhile, the High Court Wednesday heard 14 cases including PILs at its make-shift office at M-5 Gupkar here.
The petitioners expressed optimism that they have approached the Court with a hope to get justice.

Author Author
D A Rashid

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