Decided on September 20,2006

Alpine School And Ors Appellant
Jagdish Kapoor And Anr Respondents


- (1.)THIS appeal has been filed against order dated 2.5.2000 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Panchkula in complaint case No. 84 of 1997. The contextual facts in brief are as under :
The complainant No. 1/respondent No. 1 sought admission for his son complainant No. 2/respondent No. 2 in 9th Class with appellant No. 1 and was issued registration card on 8.4.97. The complainant No. 2/respondent No. 2 was interviewed and admitted to the 9th Class on 10.4.1997. The complainant No. 2/respondent No. 2 was asked to pay a sum of Rs. 14,250 by way of bank draft to the school towards annual fees and a sum of Rs. 40,000 as annual hostel charges to be paid to appellant No. 4 by way of bank draft, as per schedule of the annual charges brought on record vide Annexure C -3. It is averred that the complainant No. 1 was asked to sign a blank voucher for preparing bank draft, after the amount was received in cash by the OPs. The respondent No. 1 after depositing Rs. 54,250 and demand draft charges (Rs. 204) with appellant No. 1 on 10.4.1997 and left Master Sumit Kapoor in the school. Thereafter the complainant No. 1 went to see the complainant No. 2 on 20.4.1997 along with other family members but the school administrator Sh. Jatinder Sharma did not permit them to meet the child on the ground that he had not fully adjusted in the hostel and therefore it would not be proper to remind him of his parents and to allow any relative or family members to meet him. The complainant No. 1/respondent No. 1 returned along with family members without seeing the child (complainant No. 2). It is next averred that on 22.4.1997 complainant/respondent No. 1 received a letter from his son regarding the problems being faced by him in the school and hostel after which the complainant No. 1 immediately rushed to the school and brought back home the complainant No. 2 on 23.4.1997. In the meanwhile Sumit Kapoor was got examined by a doctor at Rajpura who opined that the child was suffering from nervousness and anxiety and suggested that the child should be removed from the hostel in the interest of his health, the prescription and opinion of the doctor is place on record as Annexure C -4. The complainant No. 1 wrote a formal request to allow him to withdraw his son from the school and also requested for refund of the amount paid by him after reasonable deductions, but needful was not done. The complainant No. 1/respondent No. 1 again went to the appellants on 7.5.1997 for the refund of money but the visit bore no result. On his request, even the photocopies of the demand drafts, vouchers signed by him were not provided. The respondent No. 1 wrote a letter to the appellants on 20.5.1997 and 17.6.1997 and also sent a telegram on 21.8.97 (copies Annexures C -6 to C -8) respectively, but in vain. It is further averred that there was a relationship of customer/consumer and service provider between the complainants and respondents, due to which the later are liable to refund the money. It is alleged that the facilities provided by appellants were deficient which led to the problems of complainant No. 2. Due to above stated reason the appellants can retain only the reasonable expenses incurred for the 12 days and are liable to refund the balance. In the prayer clause, the complainant has claimed that the appellant No. 1 be directed to refund Rs. 14,250 and Rs. 40,000 respectively, with penal interest, on the period of delay.

(2.)IN the reply filed on behalf of OPs, the preliminary objection taken is that the present complaint is not maintainable, as educational institutions do not provide a service on hire and a student is not a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act. It is next averred by the OPs that the father of the complainant was fully aware of the rules of the school wherein it is laid down that fees and other charges are not refundable under any circumstances. The complainant No. 1 had very carefully read all the documents and signed them after obtaining verbal clarifications.
(3.)IN the parawise reply, it is submitted by the appellants/respondents that the assertion of the complainant for having signed the blank voucher for preparing bank draft is totally wrong as the charges were deposited by the complainant No. 1 at the school counter, in cash. It is further averred that with reference to para No. 23 of the school prospectus in which it is clearly mentioned that the parents of newly admitted children will be allowed to meet their children only six weeks after the admission, so that the children settle down comfortably and the visiting rules are enforced very strictly. It is stated that the child was himself nervous and suffering from anxiety and the school is in no way responsible for that , as best care is always taken by the hostel/school staff to acclimatise the child in the new surroundings and to adjust him/her to the requirements of the community living in the school hostel. It is further averred that it is obvious that the withdrawal of the child from the school is no way due to any fault of the school but was at the parents own request. As per last paragraph of the registration/admission form (Annexure II) it is clearly stated that under no circumstances the parents will apply for refund for any fees deposited with school irrespective of whether the child had remained with the school for full terms or left the school in mid -session for whatever reasons, such as withdrawal for personal reason of parents or expulsion from school on account of ill health or unsatisfactory performance or even for undisclosed reasons, as per decision of the school authorities. The agreements signed by the father of the complainant (Annexurers VI and VII) which explain all the aspects of the admission including the non -refund of fee/charges. The relevant para No. 4 of the School Agreement states as under :
That the guardian covenants with Alpine School, that the tuition charges in respect of the student paid by him/her for the sessions 1996 -97, 1997 -98 in advance, are paid totally voluntarily as benefactor of the education of the students and the benefit of Alpine School with complete knowledge that the amount so paid is non -refundable in any circumstances.

It is alleged that most of the averments are false, fallacious and designed to make out a case for making the claim against the school for refund. It is prayed that the petition may kindly be dismissed with costs.

In evidence, the complainant No. 1 Sh. Jagdish Kapoor has filed his own affidavit along with Exhibits C -1 to C -7. On behalf of OPs Smt. Nirmal Burmi, Senior Warden filed her affidavit along with Annexures R -1 to R -3. Dr. Sadna Aggarwal has filed her affidavit along with registration card (Annexure C -1) and Annual Fee Schedule for Senior School (Annexure P/C -2).

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