Students can no longer take examination boards to consumer courts for delay in publication of results or discrepancy in mark sheets, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The court said the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was not intended to cover discharge of a statutory function of holding an examination, but for services only.
"The object of the Act is to cover in its net, services offered or rendered for a consideration. Any service rendered for a consideration is presumed to be a commercial activity in its broadest sense (including professional activity or quasi-commercial activity)," a bench of justices RV Raveendran and Markandey Katju said.
The bench reversed a decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which had upheld a state commission's verdict justifying a penalty of Rs. 12,000 imposed by the district consumer forum on the Bihar School Examination Board for not declaring the result of a student, Rajesh Kumar.
The verdict clears confusion on this issue as the national consumer court had given divergent verdicts-some holding examination boards to be within the ambit of the Act, while others beyond.
The bench agreed with the Board's argument that it was not a service provider and therefore was out of the ambit of the Act.
It said the Board was a statutory authority entrusted with certain specific functions and hence cannot be treated as a service provider as defined under the Act.
"When the Examination Board conducts an examination in discharge of its statutory function, it does not offer its "services" to any candidate. Nor does a student, who participates in the examination conducted by the Board, hire or avail of any service from the Board for consideration," the SC said.
"In the course of conduct of the examination or evaluation of answer-scripts or furnishing of mark-sheets or certificates, there may be some negligence, omission or deficiency, BUT it does not convert the Board into a service-provider for a consideration nor does it convert the examinee into a consumer ,” said the Bench.