Consumer forum asks school to pay up for negligence

The Consumer Protection Forum has taken to task two schools for their acts of omission and commission and has ordered them to pay compensation to the complainants.

Written by Express News Service | Meerut | Published:January 22, 2009 1:09 am

The Consumer Protection Forum has taken to task two schools for their acts of omission and commission and has ordered them to pay compensation to the complainants.

It has been a long wait for Krishna Mohan Goel whose 16-year-old son Rishab,studying in St Mary’s Academy,died of an asthmatic attack in the school premises on March 21,2003.

Rishab had gone to take his final paper of the annual examination.

The three-member jury of the District Consumer forum comprising Khagesh Bahadur,Bhupendra Shukla and Mukesh Sihania ordered the school on Wednesday to pay Rs 10 lakh within a month along with Rs 10,000 for mental agony and Rs 5,000 towards the cost of the litigation.

According to Goel,he had dropped his child at the school around 1.30 pm. Ten minutes later Rishab complained of breathing problems,when the paper was to start at 2.30 pm.  

Goel alleged that the school failed to provide any first-aid or call a doctor,which resulted in the untimely death of his son. The petitioner claimed that he was not at home when the information reached the family through Rishab’s friends. Goel’s daughter rushed to the school after receiving the news,but it was too late by then. She took Rishab to their family doctor in Lal Kurti,where he was declared dead on arrival.

Goel claimed he had informed the school about his child’s chronic illness at the time of his admission to Class VI in 1998.

The counsel for the petitioner,Sandeep Chaudhry and Sudesh Tyagi,said it was the responsibility of the school authorities to ensure proper care of its wards while they were within the school premises.

Goel demanded Rs 18 lakh as compensation for the death of his son as well as Rs 1 lakh for the mental agony the family had to undergo.

The school vehemently denied all the charges. It said Rishab was playing with his friends when he complained of breathlessness.

The authorities claimed they had promptly taken action and had informed Rishab’s family over the phone. Rishab’s mother had answered the phone and said that she would be reaching the school along with the family doctor. Later,the child’s sister reached school and then searched Rishab’s school bag,where she found that the inhaler used by her brother was empty. The school,however,alleged that the parents themselves were negligent.

“When the parents knew of the child’s case history,they should have taken proper steps. The petitioner was filing a case against the school to extract money,” said a school official. The school also contended that the complainant did not fall in the category of a consumer.

In another case, Vinod Kumar Arora,a resident of Prahlad Nagar colony filed a case at the District Consumer Forum alleging that Dewan Public school refused to refund the admission money,even after the withdrawal of the ward. The petitioner had applied for admission of his son and deposited Rs 6,600 with the school in 2004. Later,he did not wish to go ahead with the admission.

The school refused on the grounds that once the admission was done,no refund of fees would be given. The consumer forum upheld the petitioner’s plea and ordered the school to refund Rs 6,600 with 12 per cent interest along with Rs 5,000 for mental agony and Rs 2,000 towards litigation cost within a month.

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