COMEDK, the front of dental, medical and engineering colleges in Karnataka, refused to refund deposits taken from students. AICTE said it cannot take action against the front and was seeking legal opinion, which it was asked to share with the applicant. This is the 93rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to share copy of legal advice it sought regarding refund of fees paid by students to a front formed by dental, medical and engineering colleges in Karnataka.
While giving this judgement on 16 February 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “By AICTE's rules the fees of students should be refunded if the seat is allotted to another student. However, the front COMEDK refuses to refund the fees. Feigning ignorance, the AICTE was still seeking legal advice in the matter since the past eight months.”
Ghaziabad resident Aneesh Bansal, on 31 March 2008, sought information pertaining to refund of fees from the PIO of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Bansal in an RTI application requested refund of fees deposited at the time of counselling to COMEDK for BE (engineering) at MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology at Bangalore with a letter ref no F No1-101/ DGP/ AICTE, dated 19 November 2007.
In his repeated complaints, dated 15 December 2007, 16 January 2008 and 17 February 2008, Bansal had asked documents regarding the refund of his fees at the concerned college. “I regret to say that I have not received the above mentioned fees till this date and also there is no response to my repeated correspondent,” he stated.
Bansal also asked for certified copies of all the actions taken by the AICTE, as per the rule for his complaint.
The PIO stated that he had provided the information sought by Bansal. He also attached a copy of the answers received on the subject.
Not satisfied with the PIO's reply, Bansal filed his first appeal. In his order the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “It is noted that the regional office, AICTE, Bangalore forwarded a letter from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore dated 24 December 2007 to AICTE, New Delhi, which had given the correct picture of the case. The letter was addressed to Dr Rakesh Kumar, director for public grievances at AICTE, New Delhi with a copy to Aneesh Bansal. Copies of the letters of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore are sent to you for further necessary action at your level. There is no further information available on this issue at Regional Office, AICTE, Bangalore in this regard.”
Bansal then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that Bansal had paid Rs50,000 to an agency called COMEDK, which is a consortium of various dental, medical and engineering colleges in Karnataka. “The engineering colleges are affiliated to AICTE, and appear to have formed an ingenious method of flouting the rules and regulations of the affiliating body the AICTE,” he observed.
The Commission said, whereas by AICTE’s rules the fees of students should be refunded if the seat (which they refuse after payment of fees) is allotted to another student, the front COMEDK refuses to refund the fees. It said, “AICTE feigns that they are helpless and the respondent states he is still obtaining a legal advice on the matter since over eight months now. The appellant is being told that the information on refund of his fees cannot be provided since the front COMEDK is beyond the pale of all regulation.”
While allowing the appeal, Mr Gandhi, then directed the PIO of AICTE to send a copy of legal advice obtained to the appellant. AICTE should also ensure that its writ runs in colleges which it gives affiliation, the CIC said in its order.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2008/00284/1678
Appeal No. CIC/ SG/A/2008/00284
Appellant : Aneesh Bansal, Ghaziabad - 201002
Respondent: Nirendra Dev,
Dy. Director & PIO,
All India Council for Technical Education,
7th Floor, Chandra Lok Bhavan, Janpath,
New Delhi 110001.
Did you know that cancelling your policy during the Free-look period has a cost attached? In case of ULIP, the NAV fluctuation is also part of this cost. But, what if the policy has been mis-sold to you? Is there any advantage in bypassing an intermediary to escape and avoid mis-selling and inaccuracies in the proposal?
Moneylife reader Ms Menon wrote to about an insurance policy sold of HDFC Life insurance that was sold to her father by a manager at one of the branches of HDFC bank, Chennai. She says the manager misrepresented the facts. “He said the policy holder would be my father and my mother would be the 1st beneficiary and I would be the 2nd beneficiary. In fact when he got the form filled, my father signed 1st, then my mother and lastly me. But when the policy documents came, I was the policyholder, my father was the beneficiary and my mother's name appeared no where”, says Ms Menon.
Ms Menon wanted to use the free-look period to cancel the policy for a full refund. “We knew that my father couldn't get a policy because he is 73 yrs of age. So he asked how it was possible to get an insurance policy at his age. They said it wasn't a problem in their bank. The sum assured was as per policy documents, Rs30 lakhs but we were told it was Rs50 lakhs. We've got the policy cancelled in the free look period by attaching a letter stating we want a full refund as this is a case of mis-representation of facts. But we've received Rs4000 less (Rs2.96 lakhs as against Rs3 lakhs that we paid as premium) Please suggest a suitable solution to this problem, whether we can get a full refund and whether some action can be taken against that bank employee.”
Why did she get Rs4000 less? During this free-look period of 15 days, the policyholder can choose to cancel the policy, change to another policy or alter the features selected in a policy. The premium refund will be adjusted for proportionate risk premium for the period on cover, expenses incurred by the insurer on medical examination and stamp duty charges. In case of ULIP, the risk of fluctuation in the NAV will be borne by the policyholder. So, if there is market crash between the time of policy issue and surrender, the policyholder will bear the risk even if the surrender is within the free-look period.
In case of mis-selling, you can compel the insurance company to repay the full amount. But, the onus is on you to prove mis-selling. Moneylife had taken up case of Arvind Injamuri, a retired ticket collector from Sholapur who was mis-sold Rs12 lakh worth ULIP by Reliance Life branch office. After a long fight, Mr Injamuri got back Rs12 lakh plus interest as there was strong proof of signature forging, inconsistent personal data in policies, dodgy witness details, wrong or unidentifiable photos, Pan card details even when it was not applied for one family member and so on.
Read - http://www.moneylife.in/article/reliance-life-ulip-mis-selling-justice-served/31172.html
In the case of Ms Menon, she had not kept copy of proposal form to substantiate her claim. The policy document had her signature as policyholder. Why did she sign as policyholder when she did not intend to be policyholder? If it was not her signature, she can get a forensic/handwriting expert to confirm that the signature was forged. If true, then she would still have a case. In absence of any proof, it is a difficult case. Moneylife did contact HDFC Life.
Here is HDFC Life’s response – “In the free-look in form, the customer has mentioned the reason of cancellation as 'misrepresentation of facts' and did not reveal anything beyond. Thus, it did not trigger a complaint of mis-sell. If Kavitha Menon insists that it was a mis-sell, we request her to connect with us to register a complaint. We will investigate the case and if found any discrepancy, we would refund the remaining amount.”
Is there an advantage of bypassing intermediary such as agent or bank personnel to avoid mis-selling and inaccuracies in the proposal? Online life insurance purchase does ensure that what the customer declares is what is received by the insurance company. There is no intermediary and hence there should not be any surprises in the policy document. Even if you are buying life insurance product through an intermediary, you can ensure accuracy of the proposal form by filling it yourself and not relying on the intermediary.
The 15 day free-look period starts from the time an insurance policy reaches the buyer. It's a reasonable period for the policyholder to go through the fine print and understand the policy. But, confirm with the insurance company if they send the policy documents by post or deliver it through the intermediary in case of an offline product. If it is routed through an intermediary, you need to beware as the intermediary can delay giving you the policy documents. When you are in doubt about any product or agent, don’t buy. It’s not a limited time offer.
Unscrupulous intermediaries try to deprive the policyholders of free-look period facility. If the insurer routes the policy through intermediary, they may not give it to the customer after a long time. The intermediary has earned commission and obviously does not want it to be reversed by policyholder cancelling the policy within the free-look period. Insurance companies should be sending the policy documents by mail as it will help to validate the mailing address of the policyholder.
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