Jehangir B Gai
Anand Institute of International Studies had advertised its courses for foreign degrees with employment guarantee.
Students who took admission found that there was no infrastructure, no competent teacher, and no library. Nothing was taught except English. On raising a grievance, they were assured that these deficiencies would be removed. Meanwhile, in addition to the registration deposit of Rs10,000, two drafts of 850 Australian dollars and Rs40,000 were collected from each student. Around 10 days later, each of the students was asked to pay a further Rs7,200 and bear their own travel expense to Delhi for the AILS exam which would qualify them to study in Australia. Even though they appeared twice, they failed to get the required points. The students sought a refund, but the institute refused and closed down its operations in June 2009.
After getting a legal notice issued, four students Sani Jaggi, Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh and Sandeep Soni filed a complaint against the institute through its proprietor Arun Pal Anand.
The institute contested the case and sought its dismissal. It stated it had proper infrastructure and qualified teachers. It denied giving any job guarantee, and blamed the students for not paying the entire course fees. It stated passing an exam and securing a job depended on the ability of each student for which the institute could not be held liable.
The Forum observed the institute did not have any recognition from the Government of India or the University Grants Commission or from any other competent authority.
Relying on the Supreme Court judgement in Buddhist Mission Dental College v/s Bhupesh Khurana, the forum held that running the institution without affiliation or permission constituted an unfair trade practice detrimental to consumer interest.
The Forum ordered a refund of the entire amount together with 8% interest. In addition, Rs5,000 was awarded as compensation for deficiency in service and unfair trade, and a further Rs500 toward litigation costs.
The institute challenged this order, but did not bother to appeal, so the Madhya Pradesh State Commission dismissed its appeal. The institute then filed a revision.
In its order of July 1, 2019 delivered by Dinesh Singh for the Bench along with Dr SM Kantikar, the National Commission observed that revision was not maintainable as there was no illegality in the orders which had been passed. It indicted the institute for pitting its might against the students by dragging on with the litigation, and dismissed the revision with exemplary costs of Rs 1 lakh payable to the Consumer Welfare Fund of the District Forum.
(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt.of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org)