Decided on March 04,1994



A.N. Varma, J. (Chairman) - (1.) THIS order disposes of a preliminary issue raised by the respondent as to the competence of the present enquiry. The precise issue framed by the Commission reads as follows : "Whether the jurisdiction of the Commission is barred in respect of the subject-matter of the enquiry ?" The issue arises out of certain preliminary objections raised by the respondent in its reply submitted against the notice of enquiry issued against it under Section 10(a)(iv) and Section 37 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act.
(2.) Delhi Public School, Vasant Vihar, is a branch of the Delhi Public School, Sector XII, R.K. Puram, New Delhi. It is undisputedly engaged in imparting education. For the purpose of admission to the school management which runs it collects Rs. 75 as registration charges for each child whose admission is sought. A complaint was received by the Commission with regard to the validity and fairness of these charges. On the direction of the Commission the complaint was investigated by the Director-General (Investigation and Registration) who submitted his preliminary investigation report. On perusal of the preliminary investigation report, the Commission issued a notice of enquiry against the Delhi Public School, Sector XII, R.K. Puram, and the Delhi Public School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, under the aforesaid provisions. The notice states that the Commission has received information that the respondent school had increased the registration charges for the year 1990-91, despite the surplus income it had earned from such collection in the preceding year, i.e. 1989-90. Thus, against a sum of Rs. 6 lakhs collected as registration charges in the year 1990-91, it is reported to have spent only Rs. 2 lakhs. A similar picture emerges with regard to the amounts collected and spent in the preceding year. The notice concludes that prima facie this was clearly a case of manipulation of prices charged by the institution for rendering service to the student community and/or their parents with a view to imposing unjustified costs on them within the meaning of Section 2(o)(ii) of the said Act. The preliminary objection raised by the respondents in their reply was that all administrative matters including admission of students, levy of fees and other charges are governed and regulated exclusively by the provisions of the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, and rules framed thereunder. Section 25 of Act bars the jurisdiction of the civil courts in respect of any matter in relation to which the administrator or the director is empowered by or under the Act to exercise powers under the Act and the rules. Alternatively, it is pleaded that all collections made on account of the registration charges by the respondents have been spent totally for the purpose of admission and that there is no manipulation whatever in the price of the service rendered, all the relevant and material facts having been disclosed by the school in advance. There was nothing devious, underhand or mala fide about the levy of registration charges.
(3.) ON these pleas, the above preliminary issue was framed by the Commission. Shri S.S. Kumar, learned counsel for the respondent, assailed the maintainability of the notice of enquiry on two grounds : (i) The school having disclosed beforehand the quantum of the registration charges leviable on the students seeking admission in it and on the recitals made in the notice of enquiry itself the school had spent at least part of the amounts collected by way of registration charges, there was no question of any manipulation of prices within the meaning of Section 2(o)(ii) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act; and (ii) The activity involved in conducting tests/interview for the admission of the students and realisation of registration fees for that purpose could not be characterised as rendering any service within the meaning of Section 2(r) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act and, consequently, the provisions of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act were not attracted to the present case.;

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