This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Pinnaccle Institute Engg., and Management challenging the order dated 14th February 2019 in appeal No. 1171 of 2017 passed by the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Kolkata (‘the State Commission’).
2. Brief facts of the case are that the respondent no.1/Complainant took admission on 18.06.2015 in the institute of the petitioner/OP no.1 in a Diploma Course in Mechanical Engineering and the course fee was Rs.54,000/- for two years. The respondent no.1/complainant paid an amount of Rs.27,000/- towards the fees of 3rd and 4th semesters. At the time of examination of 3rd semester on 01.08.2015, the respondent no.1/Complainant came to know that the University (Respondent no.2/OP no.2) is not affiliated by UGC (Respondent no.3/OP no.3).
3. On 14.07.2016 and 13.08.2016 by letters, the respondent no.1/complainant requested the appellant/OP no.1 to return the amount Rs.27,000/- paid towards course fees of 3rd semester and 4th semester as they failed to conduct examinations due to non-recognition of the respondent no.3/OP no.2 but no good happened. Aggrieved by the act of OPs, the respondent no.1/complainant filed the complaint in district forum.
4. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Kolkata Unit II (‘the District Forum’) vide its order dated 21.09.2017 allowed the complainant against OP nos. 1 and 2 with the cost of Rs. 10,000/-. The District Forum directed OP nos. 1 and 2, jointly and severally to pay Rs. 27,000/- and a sum of Rs.30,000/- as compensation for mental agony. The District Forum also directed OP nos. 1 and 2, jointly and severally, to pay Rs.50,000/- to District Forum for indulging in unfair trade practice.
5. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum the petitioner herein (Pinnaccle Institute Engg., and Management) has filed an appeal before the State Commission being Appeal no. 1171 of 2017.
6. The State Commission vide its order dated 14.02.2019 modified the above order to the extent that the appellant and respondent no. 2 (OP nos. 1 and 2) shall have no obligation to pay Rs. 50,000/- under the head of ‘unfair trade practice’. The rest of the order stands as it is.
7. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner at the admission stage. The learned counsel for the petitioner stated that both the fora below ignored the fact that the complainant suffered due to vindictive attitude of OP no.2 i.e., the University. OP no.2 wide its public notification dated 19.01.2016 declared that it has closed the diploma course but the enrolled students would not be affected. However, the university did not keep its word. It was further stated that the petitioner is not responsible for awarding the diploma and the petitioner’s function was only limited to the extent of guiding the students and to prepare them for the appearance in the examination. Therefore, the allegations regarding the conducting of examination and issuance of mark sheets are not within the jurisdiction of the petitioner. From this aspect, there is no justification for awarding any compensation to the complainant and the award of Rs.30,000/- as compensation is totally illegal. It was further stated by the learned counsel that the opposite party No.2 that is the university is solely liable for the suffering of the complainant as it did not disclose the fact that it was not affiliated from UGC. Apart from these factual arguments, the learned counsel also raised a legal argument that the educational institutions are not service providers and the student is not a consumer as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Maharshi Dayanand University Vs. Surjeet Kaur, 2010 (11) SCC 159.
8. I have given a thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner and have examined the record. First of all, the petitioner is not an educational institution as it is not awarding any degree or diploma to their students. It is not recognized by any statutory body. It is only a sort of coaching center.
9. In these circumstances, the petitioner institution cannot be covered under the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Maharshi Dayanand University Vs. Surjeet Kaur (supra). Thus, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 is fully applicable on the petitioner. Once the student has not been able to give the examination and to get any diploma, there is no utility of the classes conducted by the petitioner for coaching of the student and therefore, there is no infirmity in the order of fora below ordering refund of the fees taken for two semesters. The District Forum has also awarded a compensation of Rs.30,000/- to the complainant apart from cost of Rs.10,000/-. The award of Rs.50,000/- for depositing with the legal aid account has already been set aside by the State Commission. A compensation of Rs.30,000/- for a refund of Rs.27,000/- seems to be on a higher side and I deem it appropriate to reduce it to Rs.15,000/- only. Apart from this, I do not feel requirement of any other change in the order passed by the State Commission.
10. Based on the above discussion, the order of the District Forum is further modified to the extent that the compensation will be only Rs.15,000/- instead of Rs.30,000/-. The order of the State Commission also stand modified accordingly. The revision position No. 561 of 2019 stands disposed of accordingly. No notice has been
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given to the respondent complainant in this matter because, in further litigation, both the parties would have spent more money and the impugned order has been only modified marginally. However, still if respondent complainant feels aggrieved, he may approach this Commission by filing a miscellaneous application in this revision petition. The petitioner is directed to comply with the order of the State Commission as modified by this order within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of this order, failing which, this order will lapse and the order of the State Commission shall become effective.