BEFORE THE STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION, CHENNAI
Present Hon'ble Thiru Justice M. THANIKACHALAM PRESIDENT
(Against order in C.O.P.No.90/2002 on the file of the DCDRF,
DATED THIS THE 9th DAY OF MARCH 2010
Prof. M. Krishna, M.A.,B.L.,
Bank Employees Colony
1. The Liaison Officer
Directorate of Distance Education
2. The Director
Directorate of Distance Education
Annamalai Nagar – 608 002 Respondents/ Opposite parties
The appellant as complainant filed a complaint before the District Forum against the Respondents/opposite parties praying for the direction to the opposite party to pay a sum of Rs.3,00,000/- towards physical suffering and mental agony and Rs.2 lakhs for deficiency in service. The District Forum dismissed the complaint. Against the said order, this appeal is preferred praying to set aside the order of the District Forum dt.01.12.2003 in OP No.90/2002.
This petition coming before us for hearing finally on 25.2.2010. Upon hearing the arguments of the counsel for either parties, this commission made the following order:
Counsel for the Appellant/ Complainant: M/s. Sampathkumar Assts., Advocates
Counsel for the Respondents/ Opposite parties: M/s. Srinath Sridevan, Advocates
M. THANIKACHALAM J, PRESIDENT
1. The unsuccessful complainant, before the District Forum, is the appellant.
2. The complainant, lured by the advertisement of the 1st opposite party, got admission on 30.8.01, and according to the prospectus, for Master of Law, Personal Contact Programmes are an integral part of the course, in addition to other things. The attendance in the Personal Contact Programme, is a condition precedent, for registering the candidates application, for the university examination, and therefore, it is the duty of the Directorate (2nd opposite party) to arrange the Personal Contact Programme, sufficiently, well in advance.
3. The 2nd opposite party, sent a letter on 20.12.2001 to the complainant, informing that the Personal Contact Programmes, for first year ML student, would be held from 28.3.02 to 31.3.02, for which the complainant was also preparing to attend the programme, as well as preparing for the university examination. Further, the complainant also received a letter dt.5.3.02, which contained an application for registering the ML degree examination, with necessary documents. On receipt of the letter, the complainant wrote a registered letter, asking them to arrange the Personal Contact Programmes, well in advance, and submit attendance certificate alongwith the application on 20.3.02, for which there was no reply. Despite letter, the opposite parties have not even cared to inform the applicant, what is the procedure to be followed, and this conduct amounts to deficiency of service, because of the deficiency, the complainant was unable to register for the university examination, though he had made preparation, spending considerable hours, for which the opposite parties are liable to pay a sum of Rs.5 lakhs, as compensation. Hence the complaint.
4. The opposite parties, denying the averments in the complaint, and accusing the complainant, as if he had not complied the requirements, as per the prospectus, for which they cannot be held responsible, that they are not service providers or service givers, as available in the Consumer Protection Act, and this being the position, Consumer Fora, has no jurisdiction to decide the case, tereby praying the vexatious complaint may be dismissed with exemplary cost.
5. The District Forum, based upon the affidavits, as well as documents, produced by the complainant, then going through the provisions of law, evaluated the case of the parties, which brought to surface that the complainant alone had failed in his duty, that the opposite parties are not service providers, since they are educational institutions, and in this view, the Consumer Fora will not have jurisdiction. Thus concluding, the petition came to be dismissed, without cost, as per the order dt.1.12.2003, which is under challenge.
6. Heard the learned counsel for appellant as well as the respondent, perused the written submissions, lower court records and also the order passed by the District Forum.
7. The learned counsel for appellant, submitted that the non-reply by the opposite parties, for the letter written by the complainant, requesting to arrange the Personal Contact Programmes, well in advance, thereby enabling the complainant and others to attend the Personal Contact Programmes, would amounts to deficiency in service and because of the same, the complainant was unable to attend the examination, for which he is entitled to compensation, as claimed, which was not properly analysed and considered by the District Forum. Questioning the said submission, the learned counsel for opposite parties would submit, that the opposite parties are not service providers, being the educational institution, and therefore the District forum had no jurisdiction, which was rightly conceded by the District Forum, requiring confirmation by this Commission. It is the further submission of the learned counsel that all the programmes are pre-planned, including Personal Contact Programmes, and therefore for the alleged non-reply, for the letter written by the complainant, cannot be taken as deficiency in service, at any stretch of imagination. Thus supporting the decision rendered by the District Forum, a plea was made for the dismissal of the appeal.
8. Having the heard the submissions made by either counsels, by going through the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, as well as fact in issue, I am of the considered opinion, that the District Forum, has not committed any error, either on fact or on law, warranting my interference, as appellate authority, and in this view, the appeal deserves to be dismissed, for the same, reasons are hereunder.
9. It is an admitted fact that the complainant got admission for ML, for which he had also paid necessary fees, submitting necessary documents. It is also an admitted fact, that the prospectus were supplied, and according to the documents supplied by the opposite parties, certain programmes were made as compulsory, and one of the programmes is “Personal Contact Programmes”, which is integral part of the course. It is also made compulsory that there should be compulsory attendance. In this case, though the complainant knew the date of Personal Contact Programme, and the same was also informed not only to attend the contact programme, but also to send an application for registration of examination, for the reasons best known to the complainant, he has not attended the programme, and the result was, he was unable to submit his application for registration, for the university examination. On receipt of a letter from the Controller of Examination, the complainant has addressed a letter to arrange Personal Contact Programmes, well in advance, which was not conceded or even considered, in the sense, no reply emanated from the 2ndopposite party. By going through the complaint in detail, I am of the view, this alone is labeled as deficiency in service, seeking an exorbitant claim of Rs.5 lakhs as compensation. The District Forum, has considered the relevant documents, and upon consideration, had recorded a finding that as a student, the complainant has no right to accuse the University authorities, and he ought to have submitted the application for examination in time, with necessary fees, with a letter stating that the attendance certificate will be sent to the Controller of Examination, after attending the class on 28.3.2002, which finding is well within the parameter, based upon facts, and therefore, it is not possible to fix any seal of deficiency, upon the opposite parties. Therefore, neither the non-reply, and the reason for not-submitting the application by the complainant, cannot be termed as deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties, and the complainant alone has to be faulted, for his failure, and such a person is not entitled to get any relief.
10. Assuming that there was some elements of deficiency, on the part of the opposite parties, if any direction is to be given by the District Forum, it should have jurisdiction. The 1st opposite party is the Liaison Officer, Annamalai University, Directorate of Distance Education, Madurai, and 2nd opposite party is The Director, Directorate of Distance Education, Annamalai University, thus they come under educational institutions. Though there was some divergent opinion, whether the educational institution would come within the meaning of service giver, now it is settled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, that they will not come within the feet of the Consumer Protection Act, as held in Bihar School Examination Board Vs. Suresh Prasad Sinha, reported in IV (2009) CPJ 34 (SC) . In the case involved in the above decision also, on behalf of the student claiming that the student is a consumer, since he had paid certain fees, and the examination board is the service provider, since they have collected the fees, came to be filed, accusing deficiency in not issuing mark sheet, and certificate also. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Apex court has ruled that conducting examination, publishing results, issuing instructions, etc., by Examination Board, were in discharge of statutory functions, that cannot be termed as service, which principle is squarely applicable to the case on hand also. In this case also, the complainant, for studying ML, through Distance Education, paid fees, received prospectus, where guidelines are available. Therefore, his request to arrange Personal Contact Programmes, well in advance, failure to do so, or to conduct an examination, as desired by the complainant, at any stretch of imagination, cannot be construed as failure on the part of the opposite parties. In view of the above decision, that the opposite parties are not service provider, and the duties performed by them also will not come within the meaning of service, the District Forum, not only on facts, but also analyzing the question of law, placing reliance upon certain decision also, has reached an unerring conclusion, requires confirmation, and not disturbance, and the result, the appeal is devoid of merits.
11. In the result, the appeal is dismissed, confirming the order of the District Forum in C.O.P.No.90/2002 dt.1.12.2003. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to cost.
`INDEX : YES / NO
Rsh/d/mtj/ SMB/ Education