Observing that “the coaching institutes are not meant only to collect huge fee from the students and earn profits out of it but they are also supposed to show courtesy, empathy and secure the interests of the students”, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Chandigarh has dismissed the appeal of FIITJEE, an engineering coaching institute, against a forum order.
The forum had directed the coaching institute to refund the total fee charged from a student, Rs 1.70 lakh, by deducting Rs 1,000, and also pay Rs 35,000 as compensation to the complainant.
The complainant from Chandigarh, Shinjini Tewari, said her son Vatsal Tewari took admission to coaching classes of FIITJEE in 2016.
But he attended very few classes during November 2017 due to severe back pain. He was unable to sit for longer duration.
Therefore, Tewari sought withdrawal of her son from the course and refund of money after making adjustments, as the institute had encashed the post-dated cheques of the complainant for a total sum of Rs 1,38,750. However, the institute did not refund any amount.
The complainant went to the forum which ordered in favour of Tewari in April 2019. But the coaching institute filed an appeal against the forum order on June 30, submitting that the complainant is not entitled to any refund as per the terms mentioned in the enrolment form, which was duly signed by the complainant.
The coaching institute contended that the forum order is liable to be set aside as the forum arbitrarily went to the extent of granting award to the tune of Rs 1,70,350 to the complainant’s son as against the amount claimed in the complaint, which is Rs 1,38,750.
After hearing the arguments, the commission held that the Supreme Court condemned the practice of the educational institutes of collecting fee in advance for the entire course and also debarred them from claiming any interest on the fee deposited.
“…It (appellant – Institute) cannot gulp whole of the fee paid, being the hard-earned money. When a student or his/her parents sign the admission form, they have no bargaining power to negotiate, or refuse to sign any particular clause in the admission form. Hence, such clauses should not be held against the student… Every parent, whether rich or poor or from any mediocre family, would desire that their children should get better education for which, sometimes, they have to obtain loan for paying fees etc. from banks or private financiers… The coaching institutions should not act like money collection machines, without keeping in mind the feelings and future prospects of the student…,” read the judgment of the commission, which was released on July 15, while upholding the forum order.
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