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Consumer forum jurisdiction

(Querist) 16 March 2013 This query is : Resolved 
please clarify whether the educational institutions are come under consumer protection act can a student claim against the college
prabhakar singh (Expert) 16 March 2013
You have told no facts.

In an Appeal filed by the Bihar School Examination Board challenging the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, dismissing its appeal questioning the decision of the District Forum holding the Board liable for deficiency in its services. In the facts of that case, there had been some mix-up in the allotment of a Roll No. to a student, due to which his results were withheld. The student had filed a consumer complaint claiming compensation for the loss of one academic year. The Supreme Court, while allowing the Board's Appeal, took the view that the conduct of examinations by the Board was not a 'service' within the meaning of the term as used in the Consumer Protection Act, and hence, the student was not a 'consumer' entitled to maintain a complaint under the provisions of the Act.

May be here court opines that imparting education is not a service.
v rao tangudu (Querist) 16 March 2013
in this case student joined for a course through comon entrance test conducted by the state, submited his certificates and continued for one year out of 2 years course, after one year he discontined and claimed for refund of certificates and fees paid by him, the dist forum awarded compansation and directed college to return the certificates, does the education institute come under consumer protection act, sir please suggest for further action
prabhakar singh (Expert) 16 March 2013
According to a news published in TRIBUNE Sunday, June 6, 2004

Mark of justice
Pushpa Girimaji

IN September 2000, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission threw open the doors of the consumer courts to students and parents and said that universities and educational institutions were liable for negligent services. Three years hence it partially shut the door on students when it held that issues pertaining to examinations did not come under the purview of the consumer courts.

This is, indeed, unfortunate because if one were to look at the cases filed before consumer courts by students, most of them pertain to mix-up of answer sheets or wrong computation of marks or similar examination-related grievances. In fact, every year, even as school boards and universities announce examination results, there are invariably some cases of goof-up by examiners. And while students, who are victims of such negligence, suffer untold anxiety and stress and in certain cases even lose an academic year for no fault of theirs, those responsible for such mistakes get away scot-free.

When the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 first came into being and brought all paid services under the ambit of the consumer courts, it was naturally assumed that the services rendered by schools and universities, including conduct of examinations, would also come under the scrutiny of these courts. So students, like many other consumers, took their grievances before these courts and some got relief too.

However in 1996, the apex consumer court threw a bombshell. In its order in the case of Chairman, Board of Examinations, Madras vs Mohideen Abdul Kader, the apex consumer court made two important points: one, it was yet to decide on the applicability of the consumer protection law to educational institutions and the various services rendered by them and two, insofar as matters pertaining to examinations conducted by boards and universities were concerned, it was of the clear view that consumer courts did not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate over such disputes. Thus the order put a big question mark over whether students could use the consumer forums for redress of their grievances.

Then in 2002, nearly a decade and a half after the law came into being, the apex consumer court finally held that educational services did come under the purview of the consumer courts (Bhupesh Khurana vs Vishwa Buddha Parishad, OP no 168 of 1994). Then in several landmark judgements, the commission took educational institutions to task for their casual attitude to students’ academic careers.

In the case of Sreedharan Nair vs Registrar, University of Kerala, for example, the national commission asked the university to pay Rs 50,000 as damages to Nair for the loss suffered by him on account of the university’s failure to give him a law degree after completion of a three-year course in law.

Similarly, in the case of S.D. Seth Mathews vs Mahatma Gandhi University, where the student lost two valuable academic years because the Kerala University failed to inform him at the outset that the SSLC (compartmental) examination of Tamil Nadu was not recognised by it and did so only after the student had completed two years of B.A and B.Ed courses, the apex consumer court upheld the decision of the District Forum to award Rs 35,000 as compensation and Rs 5000 as costs. All these orders raised the hope that the apex consumer court would reverse its earlier order on the examination issue, too, and hold the examination boards accountable.

However, in the case of Parveen Rani vs Punjab School Education Board, the apex consumer court reaffirmed its earlier view in the case of Mohideen Kader that a candidate who appeared for the examination could not be regarded as a person who had hired or availed of the services of the university or board for consideration. The complaint here was about the student not receiving the marks sheet and certificate for eight years.

Subsequently, in the case of Amrit Paul vs Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, too, it reiterated that issues relating to marks sheets, declaration of results etc, did not fall within the definition of "deficiency" in service and hence liability could not be fastened on these statutory bodies. In this case, the complaint was about the board not announcing the results.

These orders not only block a student’s access to inexpensive and quick justice through these courts, but also allow those who play with students’ academic careers, to get away with negligent service.

Hopefully, there would be a reversal of this decision. But, in the meanwhile, school boards and universities should constitute independent ombudsmen to redress quickly and impartially, examination-related complaints of students. They should also hold those responsible for such mistakes accountable.


Kuummaar AS (Expert) 16 March 2013
As per Section Section 2(o) of Consumer Protection Act, "service" means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes, but not limited to, the provision of facilities in connection with banking, financing insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service;

Outside India also Mr. Justice Belobaba’s recent decision in Ramdath v. The George Brown College, 2010 ONSC , which probably is under appeal, is also being considered towards Education as a consumer product.

The words "but not limited to" in the above definition of "service" are very important.
ANIL KUMAR 8867907494 (Expert) 16 March 2013
If the issue is related to service and consideration is paid by u then u can approach consumer forum

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