|SCC OnLine NCDRC 394:  NCDRC 395: (2013) 2 CPR 371: MANU/CF/0260/2013
|DATE OF JUDGMENT
|23rd April, 2013
|National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
|Birla Institute of Technology and Science
|Abhishek Mengi S/o Virender Kumar
|HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE V.B. GUPTA,PRESIDING MEMBER HON’BLE MRS. REKHA GUPTA, MEMBER
The case was heard by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in New Delhi. The HON’BLE JUSTICE V.B. GUPTA, PRESIDING MEMBER &HON’BLE MRS. REKHA GUPTA, MEMBER .The petitioner was Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani Rajasthan, and the respondent was Abhishek Mengi S/o Virender Kumar R/o House No.3413, Sector 47-D Chandigarh – 160047. The aforesaid acts of the petitioners, in not refunding the total amount of fees, deposited by respondent, amount to deficiency in rendering service as also indulgence into an unfair trade practice. Thereafter, complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was filed.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The respondent had deposited the requisite entrance fee and qualified for admission to M.Sc. (Tech) General Studies with the petitioner. The respondent also deposited Rs.55,000 as advance fee. However, the respondent got admission in the Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, and immediately requested the petitioner to refund the admission fee and give the original certificates. After several requests, the petitioner intimated that fees had been forfeited as the respondent had not submitted the withdrawal form. The respondent was only refunded Rs. 8,000 as mess advance and caution deposit, out of Rs.55,000. The respondent filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Petitioners contended that District Forum at Chandigarh had no territorial jurisdiction as no cause of action arose to Complainant at Chandigarh. The entire cause of the suit arose in Pilani, Rajasthan. It was further stated that Petitioners does not fall within the category of a service provider, qua the Complainant. District forum allowed said complaint and directed Petitioners to refund to the Complainant the balance amount of Rs. 47,000, after deducting Rs. 1000 as service , processing, administrative cost , besides costs of litigation assessed at Rs. 10,000. State Commission dismissed appeal filed against said order; hence this revision petition.
- Whether the scope of revisional jurisdiction was held to be limited?
- whether the petitioner was justified in not refunding the full amount of fees deposited by the respondent?
The question before the National Commission was whether the District Forum had jurisdiction for this matter. It was held that Petitioners have not placed any document to show that the seat vacated by the Complainant was not filled up at all. Moreover, u/s. 21 of Act, the scope of revisional jurisdiction was very limited. Under pursuant to Article 21 of the Law, this Commission may interfere with the orders of the National Commission if the National Commission exercises jurisdiction not possessed by law., or has failed to exercise any jurisdiction vested in it , or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. There was no jurisdictional or legal error which call for interference in the exercise of powers u/s. 21 (b) of the Act; Therefore, the application for amendment was rejected.
The petitioner contended that the District Forum at Chandigarh had no territorial jurisdiction as no cause of action arose to the respondent at Chandigarh. The entire cause of the suit arose in Pilani, Rajasthan. It was further stated that the petitioner did not fall within the category of a service provider, qua the respondent. The respondent contended that the petitioner was deficient and unjustified in its act and had also indulged in an unfair trade practice. The institute’s collection of fees constitutes an “unfair transaction.”
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that the petitioner was deficient and unjustified in its act and had also indulged in an unfair trade practice. The present case had a lot of merit, substance, and weight and deserved acceptance. The case highlights the importance of consumer protection laws in India and emphasizes the need for educational institutions to be transparent in their dealings with students.
Petitioners are directed to deposit the cost, by way of demand draft in the name of Consumer Welfare Fund as per Rule 10A of Consumer Protection Rules, 1987, within four weeks from today. In case, petitioners fail to deposit the said cost within the prescribed period, then they shall also be liable to pay interest @ 9% p.a., till realization.
In conclusion, the case analysis of Birla Institute of Technology and Science v. Abhishek Mengi S/o Virender Kumar, 2013 shows that educational institutions are not exempt from the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The case also highlights the need for educational institutions to be transparent in their dealings with students and to ensure that they do not indulge in unfair trade practices. The case is a reminder that educational institutions must be accountable to their students and must provide quality services to them. The judgment is a landmark decision in the field of consumer protection and has far-reaching implications for educational institutions across India. The case has set a precedent for future cases and has helped to strengthen consumer protection laws in India.
By Adnan Parwez, Lloyd School of Law
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