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Saturday, Feb 23, 2002

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Surveyor/loss assessors' categorisation challenged

Our Legal Correspondent

CHENNAI, Feb. 22

THE Madras High Court has admitted a writ petition from a licensed surveyor/loss assessor challenging the validity of the new regulations framed by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) for categorising the existing surveyors/loss assessors.

In its impugned proceedings dated August 20, 2001, issued to the petitioner, Mr. P. Soundara Rajan, Colachel, Kanyakumari District, the IRDA had qualified the petitioner for the following categorisation: Fire C category, M. cargo C category, M. hull C category, engineering C category, motor B category and miscellaneous C category.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Subhashan Reddy and Mrs Justice Subbulakshmi, admitted the petition and ordered `status quo as on date shall be maintained'.

According to the petitioner, the erstwhile Controller of Insurance, New Delhi had issued on August 8, 1989 a licence to him to act as a full-time insurance surveyor and he had been holding empanelment certificate for all the five classes, viz motor, marine (transit, hull), engineering, fire and miscellaneous.

With the IRDA taking over the functions of the Controller of Insurance in April 2000, he had been categorised in such a manner that he could undertake the survey/loss assessing work pertaining to `B' and `C' types of works only. He had also been asked to furnish options as to in which of the 3 departments he would like to be included.

The impugned proceedings of the first respondent (IRDA) were highly arbitrary, illegal and violative of the principles of natural justice.

The question of fixing categorisation of financial limit for survey based on the information collected from him by the IRDA did not arise unless his ability was tested by way of comprehensive and competitive examination, the petitioner contended.

According to the petitioner, the act of categorisation by the first respondent without giving an opportunity of performing all classes of surveys and assessment works with highest financial limits would amount to infringement of Article 14 of the Constitution.

He prayed for an order setting aside the impugned proceedings dated August 20, 2001 of the first respondent.

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