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Is Education A Service Under Consumer Protection Act? : Supreme Court Grants Leave In SLP Against NCDRC Judgment

The Supreme Court granted leave in a special leave petition which raises the issue whether education is a service within the Consumer Protection Act. The leave was granted through a learned bench of Hon’ble Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Hon’ble Mrs. Justice B.V. Nagarathna in the case of Rajendra Kumar Gupta Vs Dr. Virendra Swarup Public School & Anr [SLP(C) 16591/2021]. Mr. Abhishek Garg, Mr. D.K. Garg and Mr. Dhananjay Garg were the learned counsels for the petitioner.

Brief facts of the case are that a boy participated in Summer Camp organized by his school. He drowned in the swimming pool of the school and later died. His father filed a Consumer Complaint in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission alleging negligence and deficiency in service on part of the School. The State Commission
dismissed the complaint as not maintainable. In appeal, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission took note of its larger bench decision in Manu Solanki and Ors. v Vinayaka Mission University (2020) CPJ 210 (NC) and Supreme Court judgments and held that Educational Institutions do not fall within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and education which includes co-curricular activities such as swimming, is not a “service” within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Therefore, it dismissed the appeal.

In Manu Solanki, the NCDRC had held that the Institutions rendering Education including Vocational courses and activities undertaken during the process of pre-admission as well as post-admission and also imparting excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, etc. except Coaching Institutions, will not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Admitting the SLP filed against this judgment, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court noted that there are divergent views in this regard.

In P.T. Koshy & Anr. v. Ellen Charitable Trust, the Supreme Court had referred to its earlier judgment in Maharshi Dayanand University v. Surjeet Kaur [(2010) 11 SCC 159] wherein it was held that education is not a commodity. “Educational institutions are not providing any kind of service; therefore, in matter of admission, there cannot be a question of deficiency of service. Such matters cannot be entertained by the Consumer Forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.“, it was held. However, in P. Sreenivasulu & Anr. v. P. J. Alexander (2015), it was held that Educational Institutions would come within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and that Education is a Service.

Click here to read the Order

Order reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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