New Delhi, February 30: An engineering student, who was denied refund of fees by an Agra-based college after he opted out of the course within three days of his admission due to severe ragging, has been awarded a compensation of Rs 98,000 by the Delhi State Consumer Commission.
Dismissing an appeal of Anand Engineering College of Agra, filed against the order of a District Consumer forum which had asked it to refund the fees to the student, the Commission Bench headed by Justice J D Kapoor has asked the college to refund the student’s fee in addition to Rs 50,000 to be paid as punitive damages.
The complainant Deepak Chawala, resident of Paschim Vihar in west Delhi, took admission in Anand Engineering College, located on Agra- Mathura Road on September 10, 2002 paying Rs 98,000. He had to leave the college on September 13, “due to the trauma and humiliation of ragging by seniors”.
The college authorities did not take any action against the seniors and only refunded Rs 25,000 to the complainant following a letter submitted by Deepak’s father.
The college authorities stated that according to their rulebook clause, “fees once paid would not be refunded or adjusted under any circumstances.” Only Rs 25,000 was paid to Deepak’s family as the refundable hostel mess and security charges.
“The clause is against equity, conscience, justice and against the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, as no service provider can retain consideration or fees for a period it has not provided the services or the student has availed them,” Kapoor said dismissing the college plea.
Kapoor added: “The college was guilty for deficiency in service and was retaining fees for services neither availed nor provided.” On April 27, 2006 the court had ordered the college to refund the balance amount of Rs 73,000 and pay Rs 1,000 for the litigation cost.
As the college failed to pay the sum, the court has now ordered Anand College to pay Rs 50,000 as punitive damages half of which would be given to the complainant and the rest submitted to the State Consumer Welfare Fund (Legal Aid).
Pointing out the commercial drive of the professional institutes the court said, “These institutes have almost converted themselves into commercial shops. The practice of collecting huge sums of money at one go and the refusal to refund the same even before the commencement of the term or within few days, the students are forced to stay on despite the quality of services provided by the institutes.”
Consumer forum fines private college