In a judgment that may have far-reaching ramifications, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in New Delhi has held education “is not a commodity and a student is not a consumer” and, hence, not under the purview of consumer courts.”
The panel made the observation while allowing six appeals filed against a city-based institution, the Regional Institute of Cooperative Management in Sector 32C, which had challenged the UT Consumer For um’s orde r of July 2013 directing the institute to pay Rs 1 lakh each to six students who had complained of deficiency in services.
The six had alleged the institute had asserted its postgraduate management diploma was equivalent to an MBA and was recognised by the Association of Indian Universities.
Based on the claim, the complainants secured admission in the institute’s two-year full-time postgraduate diploma in management (agricultural business) for the 2010-12 session.
They said they were issued certificates that purported to be recognised by the AICTE under the HRD ministry.
However, nowhere did the certificates mention the degree awarded at the end of the course would be at on a par with an MBA, the students stated.
The commission ordered the institute to refund the entire fees 4.53 lakh along with compensation of 1 lakh to each of the students.
The institute had appealed against the commission’s orders by filing revision petitions through its lawyer, Pankaj Chandgothia. The lawyer argued that the course had been accorded recognition by the AICTE, saying “the imparting of education doesn’t constitute a ‘service’ within the inter pretation of the Act”.