Breath Analysis Or Blood Test Not Necessary For Insurer To Reject Claim On Ground Of Drunken Driving

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Case: IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company Ltd v Pearl Beverages Ltd

Coram: Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph

Case No: [SLP (CIVIL) NO. 12489/2020]

Court Observation: “…in cases, where there is no scientific material, in the form of test results available, as in the case before us, it may not disable the insurer from establishing a case for exclusion. The totality of the circumstances obtaining in a case, must be considered”,

“The presence of alcohol in excess of 30 mg per 100 ml. of blood is not an indispensable requirement to enable an Insurer to successfully invoke the clause. What is required to be proved is driving by a person under the influence of the alcohol”,

If the Breath Analyser or any other test is not performed for any reason, the Insurer cannot be barred from proving his case otherwise”

“It is not difficult to contemplate that the accident may take place with the driver being under the influence of alcohol and neither the Breath Test nor the laboratory test is done. A driver after the accident, may run away. A test may never be performed. However, there may be evidence available which may indicate that the vehicle in question was being driven at the time of the accident by a person under the influence of alcohol. It cannot then be said that merely because there is no test performed, the Insurer would be deprived of its right to establish a case which is well within its rights under the contract”

“The requirement under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act is not to be conflated to what constitutes driving under the influence of alcohol under the policy of insurance in an Own Damage Claim. Such a claim must be considered on the basis of the nature of the accident, evidence as to drinking before or during the travel, the impact on the driver and the very case set up by the parties” “We can take judicial notice of the fact that the roads in the Capital City, particularly in the area, where the accident occurred, are sufficiently wide and the vehicle dashing against the footpath and turning turtle and catching fire, by itself, does point to, along with the fact that the alcohol which was consumed manifests contemporaneously in the breath of the driver, to conclude that alcohol did play the role, which, unfortunately, it is capable of producing”


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