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International School of Business & Others v/s Somdatta Das

    Revision Petition No. 1751 of 2010

    Decided On, 31 August 2018

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, MEMBER

    For the Petitioners: Pranjal Kishore, Advocate. For the Respondent: Nemo.

Judgment Text

1. The present Revision Petition is filed under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by the Petitioner against Order dated 25.2.2010, passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal (hereinafter referred to as the “State Commission”) in Appeal No. FA/450/2009, whereby the State Commission confirmed the order dated 14.10.2009 of the District Forum North-24 Praganas, Barasat.

Brief facts of the Case are as follows:

2. Respondent took admission in PGDM and MBA Course of the Institution of Petitioner for a two years duration i.e. 2008-2010. Respondent at the time of admission, paid an advance Rs. 2.21 lakh as course fee for one year. Respondent informed the Petitioners, vide letter dated 9.7.2008, that she got a job in State Bank of India. She will, therefore, not continue with her studies and requested for refund of the course fees. Petitioners informed the Respondent, vide letter dated 5.9.2008, that they can only refund Rs. 55,000 , on the condition that the Respondent signs an undertaking that she will not claim in future any further amount.

3. Hence, Complaint was filed by the Respondent before the District Forum claiming Rs. 2.21 lakh with interest @18% from 9.7.2008 along with compensation of Rs. 50,000 for harassment and mental agony from the Petitioners.

4. Petitioners in their written statements before the District Forum stated that admission/programe fee for the courses offered by them was neither refundable nor transferrable under any circumstances. The Complainant made her declaration after reading and understanding the contents of rules and regulations from the prospectus/website and application form. Hence, question of refund of course fee by the Petitioners does not arise at all. After various requests of Respondent and rounds of discussions with her, she was informed by a letter dated 5.9.2008 about their decision to refund Rs. 55,000 as a special consideration. Hence, the Complaint was liable to be dismissed.

5. The District Forum vide order dated 14.10.2009, partly allowed the Complaint and directed the Petitioners to refund Rs. 2,21,000 collected as course fee, along with interest @10% p.a. on the said amount since 9.7.2008 till the date of realization and Rs. 1,000 as cost of proceedings to the Respondent. Further, in the event of non-compliance of any portion of the order within a period of 30 days from the date of communication, the Respondent was at liberty to enforce the same as per provisions of law.

6. On this, the Petitioners filed an Appeal before the State Commission against the orders passed by the District Forum. State Commission, vide order dated 25.2.2010, dismissed the appeal of the Petitioners and confirmed the order passed by the District Forum.

Being aggrieved of the order of the State Commission, Petitioners filed the present Revision Petition.

7. Heard the learned Counsel for the Petitioner. The Respondent submitted written arguments and stated that she had nothing to say beyond what has been written. Perused the written submissions, record and the orders of the District Forum as well as the State Commission.

8. We have carefully considered the submissions made by the parties and perused the documents filed. It is an admitted fact that the complainant took admission in PGDM and MBA course for the session 2008 – 2010 in the Petitioner Institution. She paid a sum of Rs. 2,21,000 at the time of admission towards course fees in advance for one year.

9. The Respondent sent a letter on 9.7.2008 informing the school authority that she would not continue with her studies, in view of her appointment in State Bank of India and requested for refund of course fees of Rs. 2.21 lakh.

10. The learned Counsel for the Petitioners argued that the Respondent was fully aware of the terms and conditions of the course and paid a course fee in advance with the intention to continue studies. He further submitted that their application/programme fees for the course offered by them was neither refundable nor transferable under any circumstances. The Respondent having read-over the rules and regulations from the prospectus/website and application form of ISB made her declaration and got admitted. Hence the question of refund of course fee by the Petitioners does not arise at all. He further submitted that on request of the Respondent for refund of fee and after subsequent discussion with the Respondent, she was informed by letter dated 5.9.2008 about the decision to refund of Rs. 55,000 on special consideration. Complaint is devoid of merit and, therefore, is liable to be dismissed.

11. Public Notice issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) clearly mentions that student/candidate withdrawing from a programme before the starting of the course should be refunded the entire fee collected after deduction of a processing fee of not more than Rs. 1,000. The UGC notification also states that in the event of a student/candidate withdrawing before the starting of the course, the wait-listed candidates should be given admission against the vacant seat.

12. The Respondent contended that she had intimated her decision not to continue with the course before starting of the session and the seat falling vacant consequently was filled-up. The Petitioners although contested the allegation of the Respondent, failed to furnish any relevant document which goes to suggest that the vacancy remained unfilled.

13. The learned Counsel for the Petitioners stated that the inauguration of the academic session 2008-2010 was on 25.6.2008 and when the Respondent communicated her decision on 09.7.2008, the session was already continuing. Intimation of not continuing with the course did not reach them before starting of the session and the seat continued to remain vacant and was never filled-up. The document on which the Petitioners relied, only shows the curriculum of the inaugural programme which was for one day, i.e., on 25.6.2008. The said programme does not indicate when the course actually started. The Petitioners have not disclosed the actual date of starting of the session.

14. The Petitioners had not produced any evidence to show that the course or programme commenced before 9.7.2008. They did not even produce the students’ attendance register, students’ admission register and Bank statement for the relevant period, in spite of the Respondent’s request and the District Forum’s order. The Petitioners did not produce these documents on the pretext of ongoing admissions and the transactions thereof with the Bank. The Forum granted liberty to the Petitioners to produce the documents at the time of hearing. On that date also, the parties have not adduced any evidence. These documents would have revealed the date of commencement of the course, admission of student against the vacancy caused due to the withdrawal of the Respondent. As the Petitioners withheld the said records, adverse presumption should be drawn against them. The school also has admitted its liability to the Respondent by offering a sum of Rs. 55,000 vide its letter dated 5.9.2008.

15. Despite receipt of intimation from the Respondent, Petitioners neither replied nor refunded the amount immediately. It was only after a lapse of two months, vide letter dated 5.9.2008, the Petitio

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ners informed the Respondent that they were willing to pay Rs. 55,000 towards full and final settlement without any further scope of future claim by the Respondent. We have every reason to believe that the Petitioners deliberately caused delay in sending reply to the letter of withdrawal of the Respondent in order to cover the period of commencement of the course. 16. Having carefully gone through the record and the argument advanced by both parties, and in the light of the guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission, vide public notice dated 23.4.2007 and in view of the concurrent findings of both Fora, we are unable to agree with the contention of the Petitioners. The Revision Petition is accordingly dismissed and orders passed by the Fora below are confirmed. There shall be no order as to costs.