[Consumer Law Beat] Educational Institutions Do not Fall Under Ambit of Consumer Protection Act & Co-Curricular Activities Not "Service", Says NCDRC
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has reiterated that Educational Institutions do not fall within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and education which includes extra curricular activities such as swimming is not a "service" within the meaning of the Act.
A bench of C. Vishwanath was considering an appeal under Section 19 of the Act against an order of the UP Consumer District Redressal Commission at Lucknow. The appellant, father of a student at Dr. Virendra Swarup Public School filed a Consumer Complaint before the State Commission on account of the negligence and deficiency in service on part of the school.
In 2007, his son participated in the Summer Camp whereby many activities including swimming were carried out. His son was taken to the hospital by the school authorities but the appellant contends that his dead body was brought to the hospital instead.
The appellant-father sought compensation of Rs. 20 lakh for the death of his son, Rs. 2 lakh on account of mental agony and Rs. 55,000 towards cost of litigation.
The school authorities took preliminary objection as to the maintainability of the Consumer Complaint. It was stated that the Complainant-school was not a Consumer as the Educational Institutions are not covered under the ambit of Consumer Protection Act. Factum of death of Complainant’s son due to drowning in the swimming pool was admitted by the Opposite Parties. It was stated that the incident of drowning was not attributable to the negligence of the School as all necessary services and equipment was duly provided by them and the Swimming Pool was under strict supervision. Therefore, there was no deficiency in service on the part of the Opposite Parties.
In this context, the State Commission allowed the preliminary objection taken by the opposite party and rejected the complaint.
The National Commission while upholding the State Commission's view observed that precedents set by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as well as this Commission, that Educational Institutions do not fall within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and education which includes co-curricular activities such as swimming, is not a “service” within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. I, therefore, concur with the view of the State Commission that the Complainant is not a consumer and the Complaint not being covered under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is not maintainable.
For this purpose, the Commission relied on Manu Solanki and Ors. v Vinayaka Mission University I (2020) CPJ 210 & Anupama College of Engineering v. Gulshan Kumar and Anr.
Case Title: Rajendra Kumar Gupta Vs. Dr. Virendra Swarup Public School