As per the complaint filed by one Trilok Chand Gupta, it was stated that relying on the assurances and promises made by the institute, on payment of Rs.69,408, he made admission of his daughter who is studying in class 9, at the institute.
The institute promised that special focus will be laid on subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology in addition to the ICSE course subjects as a part of the curriculum. But thereafter, their service was not at all good as promised. It was alleged in the complaint that 'no additional classes and even regular classes were conducted properly which resulted in scoring bad marks and failing in all the subjects by her daughter in the unit test held at the school' and 'before conducting weekly test, the answers were provided in advance so that the students could score more marks'.
The complaint said these issues were brought to the notice during the parent-teacher meeting. However, no fruitful action was taken by the institute except giving empty assurances. Hence, the complainant decided to withdraw her daughter from the institute and sought for refund of the entire amount.
Defence of the institute
Before the commission, the institute denied the allegations and claimed that it was providing quality services as per its assurance. It was also said that after commencement of the classes, the complainant's daughter continued attending classes for more than five months as per records of the institute. His daughter withdrew from the course due to her personal problems as she was unable to cope up. Moreover, the complainant has not produced any documents or evidence to prove deficiency on their part. Anyhow, upon receipt of the refund application, the institute as a goodwill gesture agreed to refund the amount of Rs.26,014, even though as per the refund policy the complainant is supposed to get Rs.5,119 only.
The institute relied on the decision of the National Commission in the case of Manu Solanki & Ors., Vs. Vinayaka Mission University and submitted that it is a well settled law that education is not a commodity and educational and coaching institutions are providing any kind of service and imparting of education by the educational institutions for consideration doesn't fall within the ambit of service as defined under the Consumer Protection Act.
Findings of the forum
Firstly, the forum placed reliance on the decisions of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in the case of Manu Solanki and Ors vs Vinayaka Mission University and Pinnaccle Institute Engineering & Management vs. Biswajit Santra & 3 Ors.
It accordingly held that: "We are of the opinion that, any defect or deficiency or unfair trade practice pertaining to a service provider like 'Coaching Centres' i.e. OPs herein does fall within the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum. Hence, complaints filed by the Complainant are maintainable before this forum holding that the Complainant is a consumer comes within the purview of Sec.2(7) of new CP Act, 2019 (Sec.2(1)(d) of old CP Act, 1986)."
Secondly, the commission noted that the complainant's daughter intended to discontinue coaching classes for the second term. But one Ms.Lavanya who is the OP.2 promised and assured that all the concerns of the complainant will be addressed and she will support in all ways like providing special classes for Maths and Physics and she also assured that in the first term examination at his daughter's school to be held in the school in the month of September 2019, the child shall score 80% in all her subjects.
So on the assurances by Ms.Lavanya, the Complainant made the payment of second installment of Rs.26,250. The commission said "This fact is clearly evident that, Complainant's daughter attended the classes of the first term, but after making payment for the 2nd installment, she did not continue. In this context, OPs have calculated as per their norms and agreed to refund Rs.26,014/- but we rounded up this amount to Rs.26,250 which is the second term fee. Accordingly, the Complainant is entitled for refund of Rs.26,250 with litigation cost of Rs.5,000."
The bench led by President S.L.Patil held that the opposite party J.C.Chaudhry (Managing Director of Akash Institute) and Lavanya (Branch Head, Rajajinagar) be jointly and severally liable to refund Rs.26,250 with litigation cost of Rs.5,000, to the Complainant within six weeks from the date of receipt of this order, failing which, the amount of Rs.26,250, shall carry interest at 6% p.a. from the date of this complaint till the date of realization.