National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): C. Viswanath (Presiding Member) addressed the issue of whether educational institutions fall under the ambit of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The instant appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the Order of Uttar Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Lucknow.
Appellant, father of Late Master Raunak Gupta, student of the respondent school. During the summer camp, the school invited students for various activities including swimming in which the appellant’s son also participated.
On 28-05-2007, appellant received an urgent phone call from the school requesting him to come immediately since his son was unwell and when the appellant reached the school he was informed that his son has been taken to O.E.F Hospital as he had drowned in the swimming pool.
On reaching the hospital, the appellant’s son was declared dead.
In view of the above facts, the appellant approached the State Commission complaining of negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the School and claimed Rs 20,00,000 along with Rs 2,00,000 on account of mental agony and Rs 55,000 towards the cost of litigation.
State Commission held that, the Complainant is not a consumer of the defendants and the complaint in question, being not covered under the Consumer Protection Act, is not maintainable. Therefore, the Complaint is liable to be dismissed.
On being aggrieved with the above order, present appeal was filed.
Whether extra-curricular activities such as swimming would fall within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986?
In Anupama College of Engineering v. Gulshan Kumar. the Supreme Court has held:
“… The only question raised in this case is whether a college is a service provider for the purposes of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Learned Counsel for the appellant has placed the decision of this Court in Maharshi Dayanand University v. Surjeet Kaur, (2010) 11 SCC 159. The aforesaid decision was followed by this Court in SLP (C) No. 22532/2012 titled as P.T. Koshy & Anr. v. Ellen Charitable Trust & Ors. The order reads as follows: “In view of the judgment of this Court in Maharshi Dayanand University v. Surjeet Kaur,(2010) 11 SCC 159, wherein this Court placing reliance on all earlier judgments has categorically held that education is not a commodity. Educational institutions are not providing any kind of service, therefore, in matter of admission, fees etc., there cannot be a question of deficiency of service. Such matters cannot be entertained by the Consumer Forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In view of the above, we are not inclined to entertain the special leave petition. Thus, the special leave petition is dismissed”. In view of the consistent opinion expressed by this Court, the orders passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Revision Petition No. 3571/2013 and Revision Petition No. 807/2017 are not in accordance with the decision of this Court and are therefore set aside. The civil appeals are allowed.”
In the decision of Manu Solanki. v Vinayaka Mission University, 2020 SCC OnLine NCDRC 7, it was held that “…such incidental activities of an Educational Institution while imparting education would also not amount to rendering any service under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.”
Bench in view of the Supreme Court decisions held that Educational Institutions do not fall within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and education which included co-curricular activities such as swimming, is not a ‘service’ within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Hence the present complaint was stated to be not maintainable in view of the above discussion.[Rajendra Kumar Gupta v. Dr Virendra Swarup Public School, 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 24, decided on 02-02-2021]
Advocates who appeared for the parties:
For the Appellant: Pawan Kumar Ray, Advocate
For the Respondent: Murari Kumar, Advocate