This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Maharishi Arvind Institute of Engineering challenging the order dated 21st May 2015 in first appeal Nos. 745 and 758 of 2014 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Jaipur (in short the State Commission).
2. Brief facts of the case are that the respondent took admission in the Engineering first year course at the petitioner institute. The respondent deposited Rs. 30,000 as tuition fee, Rs.5,000 as caution money, Rs.10,000 as development fees, Rs.1,000 as other fees and Rs.50,000 as hostel fees. The respondent as student started going to the college from 4.9.2010 however, there were no classes being held at the college and there was an atmosphere of ragging in the hostel, therefore, he complained of the same to his father and his father made a complaint before the authorities of the petitioner institution. However, nothing was done by the institute therefore, his father took his son along with him and the student left the college. The complainant asked for refund of the total fees but the same was denied by the institution. Hence a consumer complaint was filed before the District Forum. The complaint was resisted by the petitioner opposite party by denying all the allegations made in the complaint and also stated that the fees cannot be refunded as the seat vacated by the student remained vacant throughout the year. District Forum allowed the complaint and ordered refund of total Rs.96,000 along with 9% pa interest from the date of filing of the complaint till actual payment. It also ordered compensation of Rs.3,500 and cost of litigation as Rs.2,500.
3. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the State Commission being FA No. 758 of 2014. The complainant also filed an appeal being FA No. 745 of 2014 for enhancing the compensation. The State Commission vide it's order dated 21st May 2015 dismissed both the appeals.
4. Hence, the present revision petition by the petitioner opposite party.
5. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and perused record. None appeared on behalf of the respondent on the day of hearing though the respondent was given last opportunity on an earlier date. The learned counsel for the petitioner stated that it is an accepted principle of law that educational institutions are not the service provider and the students are not the consumers under the Consumer Protection Act 1986, hence the complaint was not maintainable before the District Forum. To support this contention, the learned counsel referred to the following judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court:-
(i) Maharshi Dayanand University Vs. Surjeet Kaur, III (2010) CPJ 19 (SC)
(ii) Bihar School Examination Board Vs. Suresh Prasad Sinha, IV (2009) CPJ 34 (SC)
6. The learned counsel for the petitioner further stated that the complainant has made the allegation that there was ragging in the hostel therefore he had to leave the college. In fact, the complainant has not filed any FIR with the police in this regard against the college or against any student of the college. It is only an allegation to justify the leaving of the college which may be due to any other reason. The complainant was fully aware that if the admission is canceled, the fees will not be refunded. In support of his argument, the learned counsel referred to the judgment of this Commission in Madan Yadav versus Vinod Menon, I (2013) CPJ 631 (NC) where this commission has observed the following:-
“5. These arguments lack conviction. The order of the District Forum clearly mentions that the petitioner had taken coaching classes from 21.07.2010 up to 20.09.2010. The petitioner himself mentions that the coaching classes started from August, 2010 and the OP used to take 3 days coaching within a week, i.e. one day after another. On 06.09.2010, the petitioner asked for refund of money. The petitioner himself admits in his complaint that when the receipt was given to him in respect of Rs.3,500/-, it was written, at the foot of the receipt once fee paid is not refundable. There is no evidence of any oral discussion as alleged. It is a settled law that once the coaching starts, and the student attends the class, one cannot claim the money for that very year or semester. The revision petition is devoid of merit and, therefore, the same is dismissed. It is the case of a student, therefore, we refrain from imposing costs upon the petitioner.”
7. The learned counsel further requested to condone the delay of 14 days in filing the present revision petition as the delay was not intentional.
8. I have carefully considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner and examined the record. As the delay is only of 14 days, the delay is condoned on the ground mentioned in the application for condonation of delay. The contention of the petitioner that the petitioner is not a service provider cannot be accepted in the present case as the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Maharshi Dayanand University vs. Surjeet Kaur (supra) and Bihar School Examination Board vs. Suresh Prasad Sinha (supra) are in respect of statutory provisions and the petitioner has not shown any statutory provision in respect of non-refund of fees. In fact, there are guidelines of the UGC and AICTE in respect of refund of fees to students if admission is withdrawn. As per these guidelines, if a candidate withdraws his candidature before the last date of counseling, then only Rs.1000/- will be deducted. In the present case, the student had taken the admission and had joined the college, therefore it seems that the counseling must have been over by that time. Clearly the candidate has not utilized the hostel facilities, therefore he is definitely entitled to refund of hostel fees. The caution money in any case is to be refunded to the student and therefore the complainant is entitled for the refund of the caution money. The development fees is the contribution of the student towards development of the institution, however, as in the present case, if a student is not studying in the college then he is not responsible to contribute to the development of the college. Hence, the development fee of Rs.10,000/- is also to be refunded. As the other fees of Rs.1000/- has not been utilized for any particular purpose, therefore the same is also liable to be refunded to the student. It is only the tuition fees which can be retained by the institution because the institution had made provision for imparting teaching in theoretical as well as practical subjects of engineering and therefore that investment has already been made by the institution even if the seat remains vacant. In this background, I do not see any reason for full refund of the tuition fees to the student. In my view, one third of the tuition fees may be refunded to the student as a vacant seat would not entail same expenditure as on an occupied seat.
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r /> 9. Based on the above discussion, the revision petition no. 2355 of 2012 is partly allowed and the petitioner is directed to refund Rs.76,000/- ( rupees seventy six thousand only) to the complainant along with interest at the rate 5% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint till actual payment. Accordingly the orders of the fora below stand modified. As the interest is being allowed on the amount of refund, I do not find any justification for awarding any compensation to the complainant. Thus, the order of the District Forum awarding Rs.3500/- as compensation is set aside, however the award of Rs.2500/- as cost of litigation is maintained. Petitioner is directed to comply with this order within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of this order.