1. The only point in this case is one of jurisdiction. The plaintiff's husband who resided in Ahmedabad was insured with the defendant company, who carry on business in Calcutta. Admittedly the premia were payable in Calcutta, and the policy contains a clause that the amount of the insurance is payable in Calcutta, The plaintiff's husband died in Ahmedabad, and the company having refused payment for reasons with which we are not concerned at present, the widow sued the company in the Court at Ahmedabad. They pleaded that the Court had no jurisdiction, but this point was decided against them in the first Court and in appeal. They make this second appeal.
2. There is no authority of this Court on the point, but it has been decided by the Calcutta and Madras High Courts and by the Punjab Chief Court that a suit against an insurance company can be brought where the insured died, the death being a part of the cause of action. There is a decision to the contrary of the Rangoon High Court in The Jupiter General Insurance Co., Ltd.v. Abdul Aziz I.L.R. (1923) Ran. 231 which is a fire insurance case. The Calcutta decision is The Bengal Provident and Insurance Co., Ld., v. Kamini Kumar Chaudhury (1918) 22 C.W. N. 517 The Punjab case is Punjab Mutual Hindu Family Relief Fund, Lahore v. Sardari Mal (1918) P.R. No. 98 of 1918. The Madras case is Vishvendra Thirtha v. National Insurance Co. Ltd. (1917) 41 I.C. 392, which is not available here. The substance of the judgment is given in The Jupiter General Insurance Company Limited v. Abdul Aziz. It is argued that the point was not specifically decided in the Calcutta case, the expression of opinion being merely obiter. Be that as it may, I agree, with respect, with the view expressed in the Madras decision rather than in the Rangoon decision. Under the present Code, Section 20, a suit on a contract can be brought where the cause of action wholly or in part arises. It has been argued by the learned Counsel for the appellant that death is only preliminary to the cause of action, the cause of action being the refusal to pay. I do not, however, think that there can be any reasonable doubt that in the case of a suit against an insurance company to recover the amount of a life insurance policy the death of the assured is a part of the cause of action, because there can be no claim unless the death had taken place. That being so, it appears to be covered by Section 20 as it now stands. With respect, I do not agree with the reasoning of the High Court of Rangoon, nor do I think it is of any use to consider that section before its amendment, as the language used now is plain.
3. It may at first sight appear awkward that an insurance company which insures the lives of people resident in various distant places should be liable to be sued where the insured dies, but as against that, as was pointed out in one of the cases above quoted, it would be equally inconvenient for the heirs of the insured living in distant places to have to bring their suits in the headquarters of the insurance company. In the majority of cases where the claim is resisted, the oral evidence which either side wanted to call would only be from the place where the insured resided. It would be most inconvenient to bring the witnesses to the headquarters of the company. The suggestion that grave inconvenience might result, if, as sometimes happens, the insured died on board ship or on a journey, is more plausible than real, as it would be unlikely, in such a case, that his heirs would bring a suit within the local limits within which he died. Even if this were so, I think, in the face of the plain words of Section 20, there is no escape from the position that the company is liable to be sued at the place where the insured died.
4. Apart from this, there is evidence in this case that the company have a sub-agency at Ahmedabad, and it must, therefore, be held to have carried on business there.
5. The view of the lower appellate Court is, therefore, in my opinion, correct, and the appeal must be dismissed with costs.