I am second year M Sc student in Bangalore. I want to clarify whether students come within the meaning of consumer under the Consumer Protection Act?
Yes, a student is a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act as imparting education by institutions clearly fall under the ambit of definition of service given in the consumer Protection Act. In National Commission in its judgment “Bhupesh Khurana and others Vishwa Budha Parishad and others” confirmed that concept of consumerism with regard to educational institutions based on the supreme Court ruling in the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. A. Rajappa and Others,. In Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. A. Rajappa and Others, AIR 1978 SC 548 the Supreme Court held that “In the case of the University or an educational institution, the nature of activity is, ex hypothesis, education which is a service to the community. Ergo, the University is an industry”. National Commission held that “imparting of education by an educational institution for consideration falls within the ambit of ‘service’ as defined in the Consumer Protection Act. Fees are paid for services to be rendered by way of imparting education by the educational institutions. If there is no rendering of service, question of payment of fee would not arise.” Hence it was held that students are consumers as defined in the Consumer Protection Act. In this Judgment, National Commission also stated that education institutions are highly misleading the public through advertisements that they are affiliated with universities and recognized for imparting education (which truly are not so) , clearly a case of misrepresentation, such attitude of the education institution clearly fall within in purview of definition of deficiency and unfair trade practice under the Act. Inadequacy of the quality of service which is not in compliance with the terms of the contract or otherwise related to such service, could be defined as “deficiency” as defined under Section 2(1)(g) of the Act. The same was reiterated by National Commission in Bhupesh Khurana and others Vishwa Budha Parishad and others. Consumer Courts are now confirmed that holding exams and declaration of results are also come under definition of service of Act, and consumer Courts have jurisdiction to look into the rules and regulations of educational institutions dealing with such services to decide the cases. Courts also held that delay in deciding the admission, misrepresentation about the recognition, not paying the refundable fee by universities or colleges, can be held as deficiency of service.
In Guru Nanak Dev University v. jagjit Singh 2005(1) CPC 490 Pb. , admission of the complainant was revoked after the receipt of admission fee, wherein the University was directed to refund fee with interest.
Adv. Anitha Gutti