Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fees Refund – An important Consumer Right

Sometimes many of us become confuse as to what can be done to get the fees back, which has already been paid to some educational institutions. And, many of us might have gone through this situation, but it is not abstruse to get your fees back as it seems it to be. Suppose, you have taken admission in a college and subsequently you want to cancel the admission. In such a situation, very often colleges refuse to refund fees providing a number of excuses. This kind of situation usually arises when a person wants to take admission in certain college other than that college whose fees he has already paid off. Whether this fee can be returned or not is a matter of fact. Usually, courts and consumer courts decree in favour of plaintiff when the university has not started its course for which the fees have been paid off. But, there have been quite a few instances where courts have decreed in favour of plaintiff in case he had not attended any of classes of the concerned course. Intervention of a legal authority becomes necessary in this kind of situations, in order to restrain education institutions from acting in an arbitrary manner. Not refunding fees in these situations seems quite illogical, and sometimes attempts made by parents and students turn out to be abortive. But, there are certain situations where courts become obliged to decree in favour of the educational institution, which would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. It becomes very necessary that interest of the both the parties are balanced. Let us take an example where a decree can be made in favour of the education institution, a student enrol himself in a college in order to purse the course available in the college. He attends classes for a certain period of time, and it would not be possible for the college to admit any other student at that point of time. Subsequently, that student wants to cancel his admission and also wants the fees which he has paid back. In such a situation, college would not be bound to refund the fees which have been paid by the student. But, there can be another situation where courts are bound to decree in favour of the student or the consumer. Let us take an example in this respect; a student takes admission in a university one month before starting of the course. Subsequently, he gets admission in a better university than the one which he has already taken admission in. Now, he wants to cancel his admission the university and also wants his money back. Also, the course of the university has not started. In such a situation, university will be obliged to refund the fees back.

One such case can be found in the state of Andhra Pradesh where AP State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ordered one engineering college to refund the fees which she had deposited. She wanted to cancel her admission after few days of the registration as she was able to secure a seat in some other college. This is one of the primary situations which one may come across, and sometimes parents become helpless as to what should be done. And, some parents may not ask the college to refund the fees or if college denies doing so, they do not take any steps.

Similar decision was given by National Consumer Disputes Rederessal Commission in a case where a student opted out from the university before the course was started. Commission in this issue held that “An educational institution is bound to refund admission fees of a student if he/she opts out before a course has started and the vacant seat goes to another candidate”.

But, sometimes court decree in favour of Educational Institutes as and when required. It was held by Punjab and Haryana High Court in Miss. Raveena vs Shri Lakshmi Narayan Ayurvedic College And Anr. AIR 1998 P H 104, where petitioner alleged that fees should be refunded as she was able to secure a non-payment seat in the college for which she was eligible. But, court rejected this argument stating that the College shall not be able to admit other candidates at the late stage as they would not be able to complete the requisite course of study and the number of lectures. Also, that college would go into financial loss if court decrees in favour of the petitioner. Since, college admitted petitioner in compliance with all the required conditions, it was not bound to refund the fees.

In another case, Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ordered Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) to refund fees to an engineering student who had deposited his fee but did not attend the course. This case clearly throws light on the situation where a student would be able to get his money back in case he has not attended the classes.

There are certain norms which have been framed by All Indian Council for Technical Education which states that the institutions would have to refund the entire fee (after a deduction of processing charge of not more than Rs. 1,000) if a student left college before the course started”

But, this process is very flexible in the National law Universities. If a student, who is admitted under any National law University would be able to get his money back after deduction of a certain amount. Upgradation in the university which comes under CLAT would not amount to any kind of deduction. But, if a student wishes to join any other university which is not under CLAT, then certain amount (25%) would be deducted after staring of the course up to a certain period. Same applies to the universities which are not under CLAT which includes private universities as well. They can refund the amount before the starting of the course for which the student has taken admission, and not after it.

It is quite clear that a college would be bound to refund the fees paid by a student, if the students withdraws his admission before the starting of the course. But, would not be bound to do so once course is started according to the available information and until any further order is passed by some court or commission. In most of the universities, a certain amount is deducted even after course has been started including Law Universities irrespective of the fact whether they are private or not. Deduction will increase proportionally with the times a student has studied or has spent time in the university. But, they are not bound to refund whole fees which is paid by a student at the time of admission. And, the deduction is justified.

“Jago Grahak Jago”

1 comment :

  1. what if student completed the course and not college refuses to pay security deposit?