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Can Consumer Fora Entertain Complaints Against Universities & Educational Institutions? SC To Examine [Read Order]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Oct 2020 6:52 AM GMT
Can Consumer Fora Entertain Complaints Against Universities & Educational Institutions? SC To Examine [Read Order]
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Whether an educational institution or University would be subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 ? The Supreme Court has issued notice in an appeal filed against a judgment of National Consumer Redressal Commission which raises this issue.The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, while admitting the appeal, noted that there...

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Whether an educational institution or University would be subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 ? The Supreme Court has issued notice in an appeal filed against a judgment of National Consumer Redressal Commission which raises this issue.

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, while admitting the appeal, noted that there are divergent views of the Supreme Court on this issue.

In this case [Manu Solanki & Ors. v. Vinayaka Mission University], the complainants had alleged that the University has indulged in deficiency of service and unfair trade practice by inducing them to get admitted in the offshore program [dental course] in 2005-2006 comprising of two year study in Thailand and two and half years study in the University, when it was neither affiliated with the university nor recognized by Dental Council of India. The University objected to the maintainability of the complaint contending that they are not 'Consumers' and 'Education' is not a commodity and that Educational Institutions are not rendering 'Service'.

The University placed reliance on two Supreme Court judgments [ Maharshi Dayanand University Vs Surjeet Kaur 2010 (11) SCC 159 and P.T. Koshy & Anr. Vs. Ellen Charitable Trust] and submitted that these judgments have held that education is not a commodity and educational institutions are not providing any kind of service, and  therefore, in matter of admission, fees etc., there cannot be a kind of service therefore, in matter of admission, fee etc., there cannot be a question of deficiency of service. 

On the other hand, the students (complainants) cited the judgment of the Supreme Court in P. Sreenivasulu & Anr. Vs. P. J. Alexander & Anr., in which it was observed that Educational Institutions would come within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and that Education is a Service.

Taking note of another Supreme Court order in Anupama College of Engineering Vs. Gulshan Kumar, the commission held that 'educational institutions' do not impart 'services' and hence the consumer fora does not have jurisdiction to entertain complaints against them. The Commission also held that Institutions rendering Education including Vocational courses and activities undertaken during the process of pre-admission as well as post-admission and also imparting excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, etc. except Coaching Institutions, will not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

Case: Manu Solanki & Ors. v. Vinayaka Mission University [CIVIL APPEAL Diary No(s).12901/2020]

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