The NCDRC in its judgement, presided by Justice R.K. Agrawal as President and Justice V.K. Jain and Justice Mrs. M. Shreesha as member of the bench ended the deadlock that was caused by two contradicting judgements of the Supreme Court and stated that Education Institution does not render “services” and therefore cannot come under the purview Consumer Protection Act.
In the present case, the complainants has alleged that the education institutions has indulged in deficiency of services and unfair trade practices and filed a complaint before the Consumer Forum. The main issue in this case is that whether Education Institutions are rendering services and would the Consumer Forum has jurisdiction to entertain the present case. The counsel for the opposite party relied on the judgement given by the Hon’ble Supreme court of India in the case of P.T. Koshy & Anr. Vs. Ellen Charitable Trust & Ors. wherein the Court stated, “that students are not ‘Consumers’ and ‘Education’ is not a commodity and that Educational Institutions are nor rendering ‘Service’.” The counsel for the Complainant counter argued this contention of the Opposite party by placing reliance on another Supreme Court Judgement i.e P. Sreenivasulu & Anr. Vs. P. J. Alexander & Anr. wherein the court stated that, “Educational Institutions would come within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and that Education is a Service.”
While having two contradictory Supreme Court judgements before the forum, NCDRC has analysed a lot of judgements and finally placed its reliance on the judgement given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the case of Maharshi Dayanand University Vs. Surjeet Kaur, that has the examined in detail the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum to entertain a Complaint with respect to deficiency of service by Educational Institutions. The Court in the case stated that, “wherein this Court placing reliance on all earlier judgements has categorically held that education is not a commodity. Educational institutions are not providing any kind of service, 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. Such matters cannot be entertained by the Consumer Forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.” Court has clearly laid down the principle that Student is not a Consumer and Educational Institutions are not providing any ‘Service’.
Keeping the above judgement in mind, NCDRC stated in its judgement that, “the 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, therefore, not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.” The Complaint was dismissed as it was not maintainable.
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Link to judgment: Manu Solanki v. Vinayaka Mission University