NRDC furnished comments on the long impending issue and held that educational institutions do not impart ‘service’ of any kind, whatsoever, and therefore nullify the jurisdiction of consumer forum applied on them. Back in 1986, The Consumer Protection Act was designed to look after the interests of consumers through diligent authoritative actions. Under the guidelines of the act, “consumers” are defined as:
“Includes any person who buys any goods for consideration or hires/avails any services for consideration.”
In the context of Maharshi Dayanand University v. Surjeet Kaur case, the Supreme Court held that education is not a commodity whose deficiency can be scrutinized by the Act. It ensued a conflict in 2015 wherein Supreme Court in P. Sreenivasulu & Anr. v. P. J. Alexander & Anr. Case firmly held contradictory views. Final dissolution was brought forth by NCDRC based on the merits of judgment passed by Supreme Court in 2010. Educational institutions, except for private coaching centers, offering vocational courses and trainings coupled with excursions and co−curricular are also brought under the same framework. The judgment synchronizes with the one announced by Calcutta High Court clarifying that a teacher−student exchange cannot be judged at par with service provider and consume. Any complaint against an educational institution would no longer come under the purview of The Consumer Protection Act.
Take a look at the basic rights every student should enjoy from the concerned institution:
- Right against discrimination of any kind within the campus
- Right to file grievances and complaints related to the institution
- Right to access authentic information regarding amenities such as courses, fees, affiliation and credentials, and standard of facilities provided
- Right to avail study materials, libraries, and laboratory etc
- Protection from any kind of injury within the campus
- Authority to file against arbitrary steps taken by any school or college that directly violates safety and interests of the students
The complete exclusion of educational institutions and their services from the accepted definition of “marketable goods” have nonetheless transpired debates regarding its veracity.