The Consumer Forum has directed Chitkara International School to pay Rs 1.75 lakh in 50:50 ratio to the parents of two girl students who complained to the Forum alleging that the school authorities had compelled them to buy material for their children from the school itself and violated the safe transport policy for students. The complaint was lodged by Ajay Parbhakar and Pinki, residents of Sector 40, Chandigarh, whose daughters are studying at Chitkara International School, Sector 25, Chandigarh.
According to the complaint, Parbhakar had paid Rs 43,700 as admission, development and caution fees to the school and the institution issued a circular on March 25, 2013, instructing the complainants to follow instructions blindly or else, the child’s name would be struck off. Further annual material fee for fledglings was fixed at Rs 3,000 by the school and it did not give any option to the complainants to buy books and other materials from the market which is unfair trade practice.
As per advocate Munish Goel, counsel for the complainants, Parbhakar had also alleged that his daughter used to complain that the driver of the bus used to drive rashly and yet, no action was taken by the school. As a result, on January 11, 2017, the bus was involved in an accident in which the daughters of the complainants suffered minor injuries and an FIR was registered. The school, however, did not inform Parbhakar about the accident or show any courtesy. Parbhakar’s daughter was so terrified that she was unable to speak due to the incident.
The complainant further alleged that there are circulars and instructions which carries the force of law, but the school had violated the safe transport policy for students and even charged fees in flagrant violation of the rules and following this, they have lodged a complaint with the Forum against unfair trade practice, restrictive trade practice and deficiency in service.
Chitkara International School, in reply, denied the allegations, stating that every instruction was being followed in letter and spirit along with quality education and facilities for which the parents have to bear the burden commensurate with the expenditure in providing those facilities. It also denied each and every allegation regarding the unfair trade and restrictive trade practices or deficiency in service and they did not have a commercial eye.
Following the arguments, the Forum, in its March 26 order, directed the school to immediately discontinue the restrictive trade practice of forcing the complainants to purchase annual material for their children from the school only and strictly ensure compliance with instructions and rules regarding the safe transportation policy for students.
The Forum also directed the school to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the complainants, which shall be shared by them in a 50:50 ratio regarding the restrictive trade practice employed by it and pay compensation, including punitive damages, of Rs 1 lakh to the complainants, which shall be shared by them in a 50:50 ratio for deficiency in service regarding safety of children, mental agony and harassment caused to them and also pay Rs 25,000 as costs of litigation to the complainants, which shall also be shared in a 50:50 ratio.
Dinesh Arora, the counsel for Chitkara school, said, “I am not aware that the order has been pronounced in the matter. In the Forum, we have established and proved the part of the school side. I need to check the order if an amount has been directed to be paid to the complainants.” Niyati Chitkara, Principal of the school, did not respond to the phone call.