Consumer issues in Education Sector

Q. College gave provisional admission to students for 1 year after charging huge amount of donation. Next year the admission of the students was not confirmed and by the time they were discharged from the college, admissions in all other colleges had closed. The students lost an academic year and lakhs of money. Does this amount to deficiency in service by the college authorities in admission process?

The Court found the conduct of the college of taking such an undertaking from the parents of the student along with huge amounts of donation disturbing and ordered the MCI and Central Government to take serious note of the matter and take measures to ensure transparency in the admission process even against management quota, especially by making it more technology based.

The High Court also found the college’s act of not discharging the students with illegal admission and not refunding the amount received from them well before the last date for admission in colleges for that academic year as grossly irresponsible and as it resulted in them losing one academic year and unnecessary litigation causing unimaginable mental agony to them the High Court ordered the college to pay Rs. 1 crore each to all the three students as compensation along with refund of the amount paid by them to the college for the admission.

Rithvik K.R. v. Union of India MANU/KA/1765/2015

Q. Whether a statutory School Examination Board comes within purview of Consumer Protection Act?

Supreme Court held that the process of holding examinations, evaluating answer scripts, declaring results and issuing certificates are different stages of a single statutory non-commercial function. The functions of Appellant cannot be divided into partly statutory and partly administrative. Appellant does not offer its ‘service’ to any candidate and examination fee paid by student is not consideration for availment of any service.

Therefore, deficiency in process of examination does not convert Appellant into a service provider for a consideration nor convert examinee a consumer, therefore Respondent’s complaint would not be maintainable.

Bihar School Examination Board v. Suresh Prasad Sinha MANU / SC / 1605 / 2009

Q. Whether there was deficiency in service on part of school in demanding money from the student for issuance of her transfer certificate.

NCDRC held that it is clear that on account of wrongful act of the Opposite Party daughter of the Complainant was prevented from getting admission in college in the current session i.e.2013-14. Wastage of one year in the career of a student has wide implication on the job as also promotion prospects.

Both the forums have failed to appreciate this aspect of the matter while deciding on the compensation to be paid. Therefore impugned order cannot be sustained. Thus the order of State Commission was modified and it was directed to Opposite Party to pay Rs. 50,000/- to the Complainant within a month.

Banne Singh Sekahwat v. Jhunjhunu Academy MANU/CF/0368/2017

Q. Whether the Petitioner is deficient in rendering the Service by neither taking the necessary approvals from the Directorate General of Shipping nor disclosing this fact in its prospectus, thereby rendering the opposite party’s diploma useless.

The National Commission observed that a correct and purposive interpretation of the MS Notice Dt. 03/12/2003, it required not only to a new course but also to a new batch of an existing course offered by a training institute should necessarily obtain the prior approval from the Director General of Shipping before commencement of the training courses.

The Complainant was not entitled to get Indian CDC from Directorate General of Shipping since no approval from the said Directorate had been taken in respect of the batch in which admission was taken by the Complainant. The national Commission dismissed the revision petition of the Petitioner and held that the Petitioner was deficient rendering services by not obtaining the prior approval of the Directorate General of Shipping or at least by not disclosing MS Notice no. 27 dated 03.12.2003 in the prospectus issued after 03.12.2003.

Director, Vels Group of Maritime College v. Lovish Prakash Guldcokar MANU/CF/0656/2018

Q. Lack of medical attention by the teachers ultimately led the sick student into a vegetative state for all practical purposes. Are the teachers and school liable?

The National Commission held that the Appellant should pay a consolidated amount of Rs. 50,00,000/- as an all-inclusive one time compensation to the Complainant, along with interest @ 8% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint.

B.N.M Educational Institution and Anr v. Kum Akshatha and Anr MANU/CF/0736/2016.

Q. Whether refund can be taken from coaching institutes in case of impossibility to attend the classes?

The forum held that Appellant cannot be allowed to be on an advantageous position, keeping in mind the interests of poor consumers. Moreover, when a student or his/her parents signs the admission form, they have no bargaining power to negotiate, or refuse to sign any particular clause in the admission form. Hence, such clauses should not be held against the student. The forum also went on to note that a student or a trainee may leave midstream if he finds the service deficient, substandard and non-yielding, and to tell him that fees once paid are not refundable was an unfair trade practice, as no service provider can take or charge the consideration of the service which it has either not given or has not been availed.

FIITJEE v. Shinjini Tewari (Appeal No. 109 of 2019) Chandigarh CDR

Q. Can an institution have lien on documents of a student for not honouring the agreement of serving the institution for 5 years after the completion of their course?

It was held that the agreement between the two parties did not contain any condition or clause by virtue of which the Petitioners-University was entitled to retain the degree or certificate of the Respondent as a lien till the latter had fulfilled the terms of the aforesaid agreement.

Registrar of Manipal University & Anr. vs. Sushith (Dr.) MANU/CF/0714/2012

Q. Is the payment of any compensation required over and above the refund of fees in case of withdrawal of admission due to lack of recognition of the said college?

The Supreme Court held that the refund of fee made by the University “met the ends of justice” and there was no requirement for any further compensation to the Complainant. The court should have dealt with the case in a more strict sense. Duping students by opening unrecognized universities and playing with their careers should be dealt with in a very strict manner and exemplary damages should have been awarded.

Controller, Vinayak Mission Den. Col. and Anr. v. Geetika Khare MANU/SC/0579/2010