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Life Insurance Corporation of India, Bombay and ors. Vs. Kalavathi B. Jawa - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit App. No. 290 of 1980
Judge
Reported inAIR1986Mad154
ActsLife Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 - Sections 44; Life Insurance Corporation of India (Agents) Regulation, 1972 - Regulations 3, 9(3)(4) and 13(I)
AppellantLife Insurance Corporation of India, Bombay and ors.
RespondentKalavathi B. Jawa
Excerpt:
.....take benefit of regulation 9 (4) (c) - calender year should be taken into consideration and not agency year - appellant did not complete prescribed period of service to claim benefit of relief provided in act - appeal allowed. - - the definition of 'agency year' in regulation 3(c) clearly indicates that so far as the writ petitioner is concerned, who comes within the definition of 'absorbed agent' as defined in regulation 3(a), he is governed by only calendar year and not the agency year. sub-regulations (1), (2) and (3) of regulation 9 use the expression 'agency year' but regulation 9(4) does not refer to 'agency year' and it merely refers to 'years'.it is a well established rule of construction that when the rule making authority uses two different expressions in the same rule..........and regulation 9 she is bound to do the minimum business not in a calendar year but in an 'agency year' ending with 20th august since her services as an agent under the appellants commenced on and from 20th aug. 1962, and if the agency year ending with 20th aug. is taken as the basis for fixing the minimum business, then she has done the minimum business between 20th aug. 1976 and 19th aug. 1977 and (2) since she has completed 15 years of service, she is not obliged to do the minimum business as contemplated in regulation 9(l) in view of regulation 9(4).3. the appellants resisted the writ petition contending that the minimum business to be done by the writ petitioner has to be determined with reference to the calendar year ending 31st dec. 1976 and not with reference to the.....
Judgment:

Ramanujam, J.

1. This Writ Appeal is directed against the order of V. Ramaswami J. allowing W. P. No. 2927 of 1977 (reported in : AIR1980Mad316 ) filed by the respondent, and it involves the interpretation of regulation 9(4) of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (Agents) Regulation 1972, hereinafter referred to as the Regulation.

2. The respondent herein was appointed as an agent of the Life Insurance Corporation of India, by an order, dated 7-9-1962 with effect from 20-8-1962. Under the terms of the appointment she has to do a minimum amount of business of Re. 1 lakh on the life of 12 different persons in a calendar year. On the ground that she had not completed a minimum amount of business as required, she was informed by a letter dated 11-2-1977 that her services stood terminated under Regulation 13(l). The respondent therefore filed W. P. No. 2927 of 1977 seeking to quash the said communication dated 11-2-1977 mainly on two grounds viz. (1) according to the terms of the contract and Regulation 9 she is bound to do the minimum business not in a calendar year but in an 'agency year' ending with 20th August since her services as an agent under the appellants commenced on and from 20th Aug. 1962, and if the agency year ending with 20th Aug. is taken as the basis for fixing the minimum business, then she has done the minimum business between 20th Aug. 1976 and 19th Aug. 1977 and (2) since she has completed 15 years of service, she is not obliged to do the minimum business as contemplated in Regulation 9(l) in view of Regulation 9(4).

3. The appellants resisted the writ petition contending that the minimum business to be done by the writ petitioner has to be determined with reference to the calendar year ending 31st Dec. 1976 and not with reference to the 'agency year' ending with 20th Aug. 1977, and admittedly the Writ Petitioner has not done the minimum business during the calendar year ending 31st Dec. 1976 and that the writ petitioner has not completed 15 years of service so as to claim the benefit of Regulation 9(4). Thus the controversy between the parties was as to whether the minimum business to be done by the writ petitioner is to be determined with reference to the 'agency year' as contended by the writ petitioner or with reference to the 'calendar year' as contended by the Life Insurance Corporation and whether the writ petitioner has completed 15 years of service so as to enable her to claim the benefit of Regulation 9(4).

4. So far as the first question is concerned, the learned Judge has held that it is the calendar year that is material for the purpose of determining the minimum business and not the agency year as claimed by the writ petitioner. That finding which is in favour of the Life Insurance Corporation has not been challenged before us by the writ petitioner, the respondent in this appeal. Even otherwise, we are in entire agreement with the learned Judge when he says that in relation to the writ petitioner, it is the calendar year that will apply and not the agency year. The definition of 'agency year' in Regulation 3(c) clearly indicates that so far as the writ petitioner is concerned, who comes within the definition of 'absorbed agent' as defined in regulation 3(a), he is governed by only calendar year and not the agency year.

5. Now coming to the second question which alone has been decided against the Life Insurance Corporation of India by the learned Judge, the learned Judge interpreted the expression 'year' occurring in regulation 9(4) as meaning 'agency year'. Regulation 9(l) provides for a minimum amount of business to be secured by an agent other than absorbed agent. Regulation 9(2) provides for the minimum business to be secured by such agent in the second or subsequent agency years. Regulation 9(3)(a) provides for a minimum business to be secured by an absorbed agent in the first agency year and Regulation 9(3)(b) to (d) provides for the minimum amount of business to be secured by an absorbed agent in the second, third and subsequent years respectively. Regulation 9(4) which is material in this case is as follows : -

'Notwithstanding anything contained in subregulation (2) or sub-regulation (3), an agent will be exempt from bringing in the business required of him under the said sub-regulation if he has continually worked for the Corporation as an agent for a period of-

(a) not less than 21 years; or

(b) at least 15 years and he is at least 55 years of age; or

(c) 15 years and at any time subsequent thereto there is business in force in the books of the Corporation tinder his agency yielding a renewal premium income of not less than Rs. 40,000 per annum.'

The said Regulation 9(4) says that notwithstanding the minimum amount of business provided in sub-regulation 2 or 3, an agent shall be exempt from bringing in the business required of him under the said sub-regulations if he has continually worked for the Corporation as an agent for a period of (a) not less than 21 years, or (b) at least 15 years and he is at least 55 years of age; or (c) 15 years and the business secured by him so far is yielding a renewal premium of Rs. 40,000 per annum. There is no dispute that the business secured by her so far is yielding a renewal premium income of Rs. 40,000 per annum. The controversy between the parties is as to whether the writ petitioner has completed 15 years of service as contemplated by regulation 9(4)(c).

6. Admittedly the writ petitioner was appointed with effect from 20-8-1962. Normally she will be completing 15 years of service only on 19th Aug. 1977 and, therefore, on 31-121976, the end of the calendar year 1976, she would not have completed 15 years of service. However, the learned Judge has construed the expression '15 years' occurring in regulation 9(4)(c) as 15 agency years and on that basis he has held that the writ petitioner does not come within the mischief of regulation 13(l) dealing with automatic termination of agency. Regulation 13(l) is as follows -

'If an agent fails to bring in the business required of him under regulation 9 in an agency year, his appointment shall stand terminated at the end of such agency year.

Provided that, nothing contained herein shall apply to an agent who has been exempted under sub-regulation (4) of regulation 9 from bringing in the minimum business required under the said regulation.'

Thus this regulation will not apply in a case where an agent falls within regulation 9(4). After a close perusal of the various sub-regulations of regulation 9, we are of the view that it is not possible to read or construe the expression '15 years' as '15 agency years' as has been interpreted by the learned Judge. Sub-regulations (1), (2) and (3) of Regulation 9 use the expression 'agency year' but regulation 9(4) does not refer to 'agency year' and it merely refers to 'years'. It is a well established rule of construction that when the rule making authority uses two different expressions in the same rule such as 'year' and agency year' it is not possible to construe both the expressions to have the same meaning. Further, regulation 9(4) has got three sub clauses and all the three sub-clauses use the expression 'years'. If 15 years occurring in clause (c) of sub-regulation (4) is to be understood as 'agency years' then similar interpretation has to be given to clauses (a) and (b). If it is so done, regulation 9(4) will not convey any proper meaning. A proper reading of sub-regulation (4) indicates that the expression 'years' occurring therein has not been used with reference to 'agency year'. As already stated, sub-regulations (1) to (3) of Regulation 9 specifically uses the expression 'agency years'. In this case, the writ petitioner having been appointed with effect from 20-8-1962, she has not completed 15 years of service on 31-12-1976. Therefore, regulation 9(4) has no application. The learned Judge has also observed that not securing the minimum business for the fifteenth agency year will not result in automatic termination of the agency under regulation 13(l) but it can be taken only as a ground for taking action for termination of agency. We are of the view that it is only after the completion of 15 years of service from the date of appointment the writ petitioner can claim the benefit of regulation 9(4) and that the writ petitioner is bound to secure a minimum business even in the 15th year of service and any default to secure that business the automatic termination clause contained in regulation 13(l) will have to be applied. As we disagree with the view expressed by the learned Judge that the writ petitioner has completed 15 years of service within the meaning of regulation 9(4), we have to hold that the writ petitioner is not entitled to the benefit of regulation 9(4) and therefore, the writ petitioner has to secure the minimum business prescribed under regulation 9(3) and her inability to secure the minimum business as per regulation 9(3) will call for the application of regulation 13(l) dealing with automatic termination of agency.

7. In view of what has been stated above, the writ appeal is allowed and the writ petition will stand dismissed. There will, however, be no order as to costs.

8. Appeal allowed.


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