Educational centres don't fall under Consumer Act, says apex commission

The apex consumer commission, NCDRC, has held that educational institutions, except coaching institutes, will not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has observed that institutes rendering education, including vocational courses, cannot fall under the jurisdiction of consumer forums even if there is any defect in the services provided by them.

The tribunal's observations came while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by some students against different universities, colleges and educational institutes.

"It is clarified that even if there is any defect in services offered by private bodies in offering these courses ... do fall within the ambit of definition of educational institutions and hence the consumer fora have no jurisdiction to entertain the same," NCDRC bench of President R K Agrawal and members V K Jain and M Sreesha said.

The commission also observed that excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, offered by these educational institutes will also not be covered under provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The tribunal, however, made it clear that any deficiency in the services of coaching centres will fall within its jurisdiction as they cannot be equated with regular schools or colleges.

"Coaching centres cannot be equated to regular schools or colleges which are regulated by a Regulatory Authority... therefore, strictly speaking, coaching centres cannot fall within the definition of educational institutions.

"We are of the opinion that any defect or deficiency or unfair trade practice pertaining to a service provider like coaching centres does fall within the jurisdiction of the consumer fora," it said.

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