The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has declared that “a complaint against an educational institution not maintainable before the consumer forum.”
The NCDRC after careful observation of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and its usage of the word ‘service’, clarified that educational institutions ,including their co-curricular activities for example swimming, does not fall under the ambit of the act.
The decision was given with regard to the First Appeal No. 852 of 2016 filed by a father of a student who lost his life in the swimming pool of his school. The Respondent School provided extra-curricular activities, one such being a swimming summer camp which the appellants’ son was enrolled in after paying a participation fee of Rupees 1000.
The father received an emergency call from the Respondent School authorities on May 28, 2007 informing him about the death of his son. The father then went on to complaint for negligence and deficiency on part of the school, claiming for Rs.22,55,000 for “compensation for death of his son, the mental agony suffered by him, and for the cost of litigation.”
Hon'ble Mr. C. Viswanath, as a member of the NCDRC, refers to previous matters and their precedents. The Supreme Court in Anupama College of Engineering v. Gulshan Kumar & Anr held , “educational institutions are not providing any kind of service, therefore, in a matter of admission, fees etc. there cannot be question of deficiency of service”. The NCDRC also goes on to cite Manu Solanki and Ors v. Vinayaka Mission University “such incidental activities of an Education Institutional while imparting education would also not amount to rendering any service under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986”.
With that in reference, The NCDRC passed, “It is settled law, as stated in the aforementioned precedents set by the Hon'ble SupremeCourt 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”
Manu Solanki which was made reference to held, “we are of the considered opinion that the Institutions rendering Education including Vocational courses and activities undertaken during the process of pre-admission as well as post-admission and also imparting excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, etc. except Coaching Institutions, will, therefore, not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986”