1. Revision Petition has been filed by the Petitioner under Section 21 (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the order passed by the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Kolkata (hereinafter referred to as “the State Commission”) in First Appeal No.1111/2013 dated 13.08.2015.
2. Case of the Petitioners/Complainants is that Respondent No.2 published an advertisement informing admission for B. Tech and diploma course in Engineering for 2011-12. The advertisement mentioned that the institute was approved by Singhania University, Rajasthan. On seeing the advertisement, the Petitioner/Complainant took admission in B. Tech (Civil Engineering) Course in School of Engineering and Technology Institute. A fee of Rs.50,000/- was paid as university admission fees and a sum of Rs.52,500/- towards tuition fees in June, 2011. The Petitioner/Complainant also stated that Respondent No.4, an agent of A to Z Consultant was also paid Rs.75,000/- for securing a seat under the management quota. Petitioner No.1 joined the classes in the Institute. However, no regular classes were held. On checking the website he found that the institute was not recognized with Singhania University, Rajasthan but from CMG University, Meghalaya. The advertisement was totally false, baseless and frivolous. On checking the UGC website, circular dated 01.09.2011 revealed that some of the Universities are running centres on franchise basis which was not allowed and private university cannot affiliate institutions and colleges. They also cannot establish campus centres beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the State. In the aforesaid circumstances, the Petitioner filed Complaint before the District Forum with following prayer: -
“Under the circumstances, it is, therefore most respectfully prayed that this petitioner be kindly allowed a total sum of Rs.3,22,500/- as detailed below:
1. A sum of Rs.1,02,500/- for fees paid vide receipt no.1026 dated 22.06.2011
2. A sum of Rs.75,000/- for Management Quota Fees without any voucher.
3. A sum of Rs.25,000/- for litigation cost.
4. A sum of Rs.1,00,000/- as compensation for harassment and mental agony for the same.
5. A sum of Rs.20,000/- for up to date interest.”
3. Respondents No.1, 2 & 3 contested the case. They contended that the Complaint was not maintainable in law. The Opposite Parties denied all the allegations made in the Complaint and stated that necessary documents will be submitted by the Opposite Parties at the time of hearing. The District Forum allowed the Complaint on contest and ordered as follows: -
“Hence ordered that the complaint be and the same is allowed on contest with cost of Rs.10,000/- against the OPs and OPs shall have to pay Rs.10,000/- to the applicant.
OPs are hereby directed to pay a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- to the complainants within one month from the date of this order as compensation for causing harassment, damaging the education career for one year and for grabbing the total amount as fees having no recognition of the OP-Institute to impart education.
For adopting unfair trade practice the educational trade-OPs are directed to pay a sum of Rs.50,000/- as punitive damages within one month from the date of this order to the State Consumer Welfare Fund.
If OP fails to comply with the order of this Forum within 30 days from the date of this order in that case an interest of Rs.200 per day shall be assessed for disobeying the Forum’s order and if it is collected same shall be deposited to the State Consumer Welfare Fund.
Even if repeated non-compliance of the order on the part of the O.P. is found in that case the penal action shall be taken against them, even positive penal action shall be taken for permanently closing down the entire institute by sealing the present institute (fake) run from the address.”4. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, Appeal was filed by Opposite Parties No.1, 2 & 4, again reiterating that the Complaint was not maintainable. The State Commission after hearing the respective parties and going through the material on record came to the conclusion that the Complaint is not maintainable as the institute came under the purview of educational institution and education was not a commodity. The appeal was allowed on contest, setting aside the order of the District Forum.
5. Aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, present Revision Petition has been filed.
6. Heard the learned Counsel for the Petitioner as well as Respondents No.1 to 3 and carefully gone through the record. District Forum observed: “Moreover from the letter as produced by the O.P. it is found that the institute is not an institute but one Nibir Saha was appointed for the purpose of operating the admission matter of the student at Singhania University at Rajasthan not in the centre. Then question is how the O.P. in its brochure and advertisement declared that it is an institute to impart of technical and engineering education like B. Tech and other to the students that means the entire defence on the part of the O.Ps is false and fabricated. But giving hoax and alluring the students the present O.P. realized huge fees from the p resent complainant though it is a fake institute.
Further from another letter issued by CMG University Meghalaya it is found that Nibir Saha was authorized to provide needful guidance to the students interested for taking admission in their respective course at CMGA at Meghalaya University. So considering the documents it is clear that the entire institute is a fake institution having their no affiliation to impart technical education or any education to any students and not to admit the students in this institute in B.E. of any stream.
In the light of the above observation we are convinced to hold that the complainant’s allegations against the O.P. are proved beyond any manner of doubt.”
7. Vide letter dated 21.05.2011 of Singhania University, the University had provisionally appointed Respondent No.2 Mr. Nivir Saha as Manager (Admission and Operation Centre), Singhania University, Pancheri Bari Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. He was authorized to open admission and operation centre at School of Engineering & Technology in Salt Lake City, Kolkata. The status of the centre was only provisional, subject to completion of formalities. The entire responsibility for the operations rested with Respondent No.2. Before opening of the centre he was advised to refer to all rules of Government/Regulating body for opening such centres. Attention is also drawn to circular of UGC dated 01.09.2011 which stated that it had come to the notice of the UGC that some of the State Private Universities have affiliated colleges and started campus centres in violation of the UGC (Establishment of and Maintenance of Standards in Private Universities) Regulation, 2003 and against the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of Prof. Yash Pal & Ors. Vs. State of Chhattishgarh & Ors. Some of these Universities are running centres on franchise basis also which is not allowed. As seen from the above, Respondent No.2 had been running this institute and invited applications for admission through advertisement without completion of necessary formalities for running the institute and thereby cannot be termed as an educational institution duly authorized to impart education/knowledge. By means of false adverti
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sement, the Respondents have enticed students to pay heavy fees and seek admission in their institution. Learned Counsel for the Respondents could not provide any document showing due recognition of the institute imparting any technical or engineering education. No evidence has been produced showing that the institute was recognized by AICTE or UGC etc. accruing legitimate status to impart technical or engineering education and enrol students in engineering courses. 8. In view of the above, the District Forum rightly observed that such an institute must be dealt with heavy hand as they cheat the applicants wasting their valuable money, time and career. In the result, Revision Petition is allowed, order passed by the State Commission is set aside and that of the District Forum is upheld. There will be no order as to cost.