Mumbai: Not allowing a student to discontinue his studies as s/he could not cope with the same would be against the welfare of consumers, ruled a consumer court recently, while ordering Andheri-based IITians PACE, a coaching class to pay back Rs 1 lakh to a student. This comes after the student, a Nashik resident, moved the consumer forum to seek a refund of the fees he paid for two years of coaching.
The full bench of the forum led by president Milind Sonavane also held that collecting fees for a two years course upfront would amount to deficiency of service on the part of the institution. The bench accordingly ordered the coaching class to pay Rs 1 lakh to Kiran Pawar, who had got his son admitted to this institution for a two-years coaching program.
According to Pawar, he had paid Rs 2 lakh for the admission, which was for the two years course. He claimed to have taken some loan to pay the fees. However, within a few months after the coaching commenced, Pawar's son started complaining of the 'poor infrastructure and unskilled teachers' and by the end of the eighth month of his coaching, he sought to cancel his admission.
Pawar accordingly, approached the coaching institution seeking a refund of the fees he paid for his son's admission. However, the institution refused to return any amount, claiming that the fees are charged jointly for the two years.
Having considered the contentions, the forum, also comprising of members Sachin Shimpi and Prerna Kalunkhe-Kulkarni, noted that apart from Pawar's son, no other student made any sort of grievance regarding the faculties or the infrastructure. The court also noted that the institution had placed material on record to show it has sufficient infrastructure and skilled professors.
The court, however, was unimpressed by the contention of the institution that it charges fees jointly for two years and that its fee structure does not allow a student to cancel the admission with a refund.
“A student gets admission in an institution, he desired. Later on, if s/he is unable to cope with the studies and wants to leave the course, but the fee structure does not permit him to do so, is purely against consumer welfare. Similar is the fee structure in the present case, which is against consumer welfare,” the court ruled.
“We find that even if the institution provided better facilities to the student, but it faulted by taking the fees for the entire course within three months of the first year. And later on, left no option for the student to cancel his or her admission can be said a deficiency in service,” the court added.