NIFT ordered to pay refund after deduction of admission process expense

Case No.142/11

In the matter of:

Shri Rajesh Aggarwal,
350, Pkt. E, Mayur Vihar Phase-II,
Delhi-110091.                                        ……Complainant

Vs

Director,
National Institute of Fashion Technology,
NIFT Campus, Near Gulmohar Park,
New Delhi-110016.                                                      .….OP-1
 
Registrar,
National Institute of Fashion Technology,
NIFT Campus, Near Gulmohar Park,
New Delhi-110016.                                                    .….OP-2

Date of Institution : 18.03.11

Date of Order : 01.06.12

ORDER

T.Vijayan, Member

This is a complaint under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act.

Brief facts of the case are that the complainant’s daughter got admission to OP institute for B Design course and to pay in advance on 22.06.10 rs. 51,750/- towards the tuition fee and the course was to start from 26.07.10. Without joining the course, on 28.07.10 complainant’s withdrew their admission and sought refund of her fee. OP accepted the request but refund only 25,000/- out of Rs. 51,750/- paid. Complainant took-up the matter with OP for refund of balance amount which was not agreed to by the OP and they replied stating that refund was made as per refund policy mentioned in the prospectus. complainant claims that as per passed judicial pronouncement and guidelines issued by AICTE / UGC OPs only entitled to deduct a token amount of Rs. 1000/- and balance amount is refundable. Complainant prayed to this Forum to direct OP to refund to him the amount of Rs. 26,750/-.

On filing of the complaint notices were issued to OPs and OP submitted written statement refuting the claims of the complainant. OP mentioned that the present matter is a policy matter and cannot be adjudicated by consumer fora and their policy can only be challenged by the complainant under writ jurisdiction. They further mentioned that this forum has no jurisdiction to adjudicate the present dispute as it is not a consumer dispute and does not fall within the ambit of CPA. As per OP, they are an autonomous institution and has formulated proper rules and regulations for students of its institute which clearly lays down the rules and regulations with respect to admission, fees, conduct and general rules. It is mentioned in their prospectus that in case the candidate withdraw from any programme on or before 31.07.10 only 50% of the tuition fee plus security deposit will be refunded. At the time of admission and before payment of fees and undertaking was given by the complainant and his daughter stating that in case of withdrawal from the programme on or before 31.07.10 only Rs. 25,000/- will be refunded. The complainant’s daughter applied for withdrawal of her candidature vide letter dt. 28.07.10 and they have already refunded an amount of Rs. 25,000/- as per their rules.

Complainant filed rejoinder to the written statement of OP refuting their allegations. Complainant also filed evidence by way of affidavit reiterating the claims. OP also filed the affidavit reconfirming their contentions in the written statement.

We have heard the arguments in the matter and also gone through the records carefully. There is no dispute that the complainant’s daughter was granted admission in OP institute and she paid in advance Rs. 51,750/-. She withdrew from the course without attending any classes and sought refund of her deposited amount of Rs. 51,750/-. OP had refunded her Rs. 25,000/- as per terms and conditions mentioned in their prospectus which was duly informed to the complainant / daughter at the time of seeking admission to OP institute. As per OP they are autonomous institution having its own rules and applicable refund as per their rules has already been made to the complainant. This brings the complainant before this forum for relief.

OP have raised objection with regard to maintainability of the present complaint before this Forum. It has been brought to our notice a judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court in appeal no. 1135 of 2001 wherein it was inter alia held that “Imparting of education by an educational institution for consideration falls within the ambit of ‘service’ as defined in the Consumer Protection Act. Fees are paid for services to be rendered by way of imparting education by the educational insitituions. If there is no rendering of service, question of payment of fee would not arise. Te complainants had hired the services of the respondent for consideration so they are consumers as defined in the Consumer Protection Act.” It is forum as well as Hon’ble State Commission Delhi has been taking a consistence view that no institute can be allowed to retain the tuition fee charged by them in case tuition has not been provided or availed. They are only entitled to deduct a token amount for the expenses incurred by them for process of admission. Further as per Hon’ble State Commission, Delhi any terms in the prospectus that fees once paid shall not be refunded is unfair and therefore cannot be enforced. Complainant has also brought to our notice a public notice issued by University Grant Commission dt. 23.04.07 and the relevant extract from the circular is reproduced below:

“The Ministry of Human Resource Development and University Grants Commission have considred the issue and decided that the Institutions and Universities, in the public interest, shall maintain a waiting list of students / candidates. In the event of a student / candidate withdrawing before the starting of the course, the waitlisted candidates should be given admission against the vacant seat. The entire fee collected from the student, after a deduction of the processing fee of not more than Rs. 1000/- (one thousand only) shall be refunded and returned by the Institution / University to the student / candidate withdrawing from the programme.”

Keeping in view the general guidelines issued by University Grant Commission and passed judicial pronouncement in the matter. We find that OP is not entitled to forfeit the amount of Rs. 26,750/- and they are only entitled to deduct admission process expenses of Rs. 1000/- from the total deposit amount of Rs. 51,750/-. We therefore, direct OP to refund to the complainant a further amount of Rs. 25,750/-.

In the facts and circumstances of the case, we are not issuing any order for payment of compensation and litigation cost.