At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. C. VISWANATH
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioner: Rajesh Biswas, Advocate. For the Respondent: Sumit Roy Choudhary, Advocate.
1. The case of the Respondent/Complainant is that he took admission at the Petitioner/Opposite Party Institution for BBA course in 2011. He was given to understand by the Petitioner that the course was a regular BBA course under Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management University (EIILM University). He, however, later learnt that the University Grants Commission had not approved distant learning course for opening of study centre on franchise basis, other than its Jorethang campus in Sikkin. Thereupon the Complainant sent a legal notice to the Opposite Party. Since there was no response to his legal notice, he filed a complaint case before the District Forum.
2. The case was contested by the Petitioner/Opposite Party that it held regular classes. The Complainant after two years of academic studies and obtaining marksheet from EIILM University for the first year, was seeking undue gain by claiming refund of fees. There was no deficiency in service on their part and therefore, the Complaint be dismissed.
3. District Forum allowed the Consumer Complaint in part with the following observation: -
“Complainant has examined himself by filing affidavit in chief. We have carefully gone through the affidavit in chief submitted by the complainant. Complainant has stated that he is a consumer and after taking admission in the Gandhi Institute he came to know that Gandhi University not offering any certificate as a regular student to any institute outside the state of Sikkim and the course which he has pursued was in fact a long distance course. He has given lawyer notice to the Gandhi institute but they have not replied. Hence he has prayed for refund of admission fees. We find that there is no such document coming before us to controvert the statement of the complainant. The series of documents by the complainant and the OPs which could not show that OP Gandhi Institute is giving certificate for the course of BBA. In this circumstance we hold that complainant is entitled to get refund of admission fees. Hence, it is ordered that the complaint be allowed on contest against OPs in part.
OPs are directed to refund Rs.1,76,085/- to the complainant within two months from the date of this order, failing which an interest of 12% per annum will run from the date of this order till final payment.”
4. Against the order of the District Forum, Opposite Party filed an Appeal before the State Commission. After hearing learned Counsel for the parties, State Commission dismissed the Appeal with the following observation: -
“Clearly, the Respondent fell prey to the total misrepresentation of the Appellants which was tantamount to unfair trade practice. The Respondent was admitted to the BBA Course for receiving education for consideration conducted by the EIILM University which was seemingly not authorized to impart education through off campus/study centres. This clearly falls within the purview of deficiency in service as defined in the 1986 Act.
Accordingly, the present appeal fails.
O R D E R E D
that A/39/2015 be and the same is dismissed on contest against the Respondent. No cost.”
5. Aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, the Petitioner filed the instant Revision Petition. Both the Fora below allowed the Consumer Complaint against the Petitioner/Opposite Party.
6. Jurisdiction of this Commission under Section 21 (b) is very limited. This Commission is not required to re-appreciate and reassess the evidences and reach to its own conclusion. The Court can intervene only when the Petitioner succeeds in showing that the Fora below has wrongly exercised its jurisdiction or there is a miscarriage of justice. It was so held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mrs. Rubi (Chandra) Dutta Vs. M/s United India Insurance Co. Ltd. (2011) 11 SCC 269 has held as under: -
“13. Also, it is to be noted that the revisional powers of the National Commission are derived from Section 21 (b) of the Act, under which the said power can be exercised only if there is some prima facie jurisdictional error appearing in the impugned order, and only then, may the same be set aside. In our considered opinion there was no jurisdictional error or miscarriage of justice, which could have warranted the National Commission to have taken a different view than what was taken by the two Forums. The decision of the National Commission rests not on the basis of some legal principle that was ignored by the Courts below, but on a different (and in our opinion, an erroneous) interpretation of the same set of facts. This is not the manner in which revisional powers should be invoked. In this view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that the jurisdiction conferred on the National Commission under Section 21 (b) of the Act has been transgressed. It was not a case where such a view could have been taken by setting aside the concurrent findings of two fora.”
7. Same principle has been reiterated by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Lourdes Society Snehanjali Girls Hostel and Ors. Vs. H & R Johnson (India) Ltd. and Ors. (2016 8 SCC 286 wherein Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:-
“23. The National Commission has to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it only if the State Commission or the District Forum has failed to exercise their jurisdiction or exercised when the same was not vested in their or exceeded their jurisdiction by acting illegally or with material irregularity. In the instant case, the National Commission has certainly exceeded its jurisdiction by setting aside the concurrent finding of fact recorded in the order passed by the State Commission which is based upon valid and cogent reasons.”
8. Admittedly, the Respondent joined BBA course at the Petitioner- Institute, paid fees regularly and attended classes. EIILM University was not authorized to open study centre outside the State of Sikkim. Degree awarded by the EIILM University was valid if the course was conducted in regular mode at the main campus of the University. The Petitioner Institute was bound to offer admissions to regular courses which were duly approved by the statutory authorities. By enrolling students in the course without due approval of the statutory authority, the Petitioner had jeopardized the career of the students. It amounted to unfair trade practice.
9. Letter dated 11th September, 2013 of the University Grants Commission very clearly replied to the queries raised in an RTI application that EIILM University, Jorethang, Sikkim (Private University) offered programmes in regular mode only in the main campus of the University. UGC had not granted any permission to EIILM University to establish study centre. Franchise of higher education was not allowed. The degree issued by EIILM University was valid only for courses conducted in regular mode at the main campus of EIILM University. Thi
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s very clearly establishes that the Petitioner Institute did not have permission to establish study centre for higher education and the degree issued by the Petitioner was not valid. 10. In view of the above, it is very clear that the Petitioner institute was not recognized to run regular courses at its campus and the degrees awarded were not valid. This certainly tantamounted to unfair trade practice. There is, therefore, no need to interfere with the concurrent findings of both the Fora below. Petitioner has failed to point any illegality or irregularity in the order passed by the State Commission, warranting interference in exercise of revisional jurisdiction under Section 21 (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Revision Petition is accordingly dismissed.