Fees refund: Should students sue education institutes and can they do so? Yes!

Law is on the side of students who want to leave an institute or course mid-way and are seeking refund of fees. This also means, education institutes should not be charging upfront fees for the entire course and refuse refund, in case the student wants it

Consider a typical scenario: A student takes admission to a coaching institute for a two year course, broken into four semesters. The student signs the enrollment /admission form containing various conditions. The institute collects upfront fees for the entire course. After attending classes for a few days/weeks, the student is dissatisfied and wants to opt out, but the institute refuses to refund the fees. It cites a clause in the admissions form that says, "Fees once paid shall not be refunded under any circumstances."

When the student persists with the demand, the institute cites another clause in the form: "In case of any dispute, matter shall be referred to arbitration and institute shall appoint the Arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on the parties."

What is the solution? Here are two real life resolutions.

In one case, Dr Minathi Rath, a student’s father, dragged the coaching institute to the Consumer Forum. The State Commission held in 2006, that the clause "fees once paid is not refundable" was "unconscionable and voidable”. It further directed all educational institutes not to charge fees for the whole duration of the course in advance by way of lumpsum payment. The judgement was reported in the media as well. FIIT-JEE challenged this in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), but more about that later.

In another case,  a student paid an upfront fee of Rs1.8 lakh for a two-year coaching programme for the IIT-JEE entrance test. After a few classes, he wanted to opt out and sought a refund. As expected, FIIT-JEE (the coaching institute) refused, citing the non-refund clause which he had signed.

When the student’s father persisted with the request to refund the fee (after deducting a portion for the duration he attended the classes) FIIT-JEE initiated arbitration proceedings. The Arbitrator declined to grant the refund and agreed with FIIT-JEE’s submisison that once the student signed the admission form, he was bound by its clauses.

I entered the scene after the arbitration proceedings and filed an objection in the District Court against the order of the Arbitrator. The District Judge reversed the order of the Arbitrator with detailed reasons. The judge specifically noted that when a student signs the admission form, he has no bargaining power to negotiate, or refuse to sign any particular clause in the admission form. Hence, these clauses should not be held against the student. The District Judge also directed the Arbitrator to refund the proportionate fee to the student.

The matter did not end there. FIIT-JEE hired a big law firm and challenged the order in the High Court, although the amount involved was only Rs2 lakh. The matter came up before the High Court on 21 November 2011.

At the hearing, FIIT-JEE conceded that the non-refundable fee clause can be challenged as unconscionable under Section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, besides being in violation of the principles of public policy. The High Court agreed with the District Judge's view and remanded the matter to the Arbitrator for a decision after taking into account all the recent precedents on the point of law. The order is available here.

Now, in another development just a week prior to the High Court hearing, the NCDRC decided on FIIT-JEE’s appeal in Dr Minathi Rath’s case that we mentioned earlier. It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court had settled the fee issue in the case of Islamic Academy of Education Vs. State of Karnataka (2003) 6 SCC 696. The Apex Court had expressed unhappiness with educational institutes charging the entire fees upfront and had said that students should only be asked to pay fees for a semester/ year to begin with.

But FIIT-JEE argued before the NCDRC that the ruling of Islamic Academy was not applicable to it since it is not an educational institute but only a coaching institute. The NCDRC was not impressed and upheld the order of the State Commission, directing FIIT-JEE to refund the fees. The order is available here.

We now began a second round of arbitration in the second FIIT-JEE case as directed by the High Court, by providing all the rulings on the dispute. This time the Arbitrator awarded the refund of fees for one year after deduction of statutory fees like Service Tax, etc.

In situations like these, students who want to leave an institute or course mid-way, usually hesitate to appoint a lawyer to argue their case. On the other hand, institutes have the resources for good legal representation. My advice to students is that the law is on your side if you want to fight. And educational institutes should be prudent, desist from charge upfront fees for the entire course, and if they do, should not refuse a refund.
 
(Dushyant K Mahant, is Founding Partner of Mahant & Mahant
and Intellectual Property Lawyer. He did his Masters in IP Law from Brisbane. Does pro bono work as well. Mr Mahant is active on social media to exchange views and news about politics, law and common sense)

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    COMMENTS

    Jasvir Kaur

    11 months ago

    Sir plz reply me

    Jasvir Kaur

    11 months ago

    Hi sir Mera nam jasvir kaur hai mane ika IELTS Ki cls join kri only tow day mane5000 ka installment kr Diya ab tow day after Meri family Ami problem aa gyi jis krn Mai nhi ja skti mane pase vapas krne ke lye bola ohna ne mna krta so sir plz help me

    Sonali Kumari

    1 year ago

    Sr please reply me fast it's important bcoz 8000 is valuable for me

    Sonali Kumari

    1 year ago

    Sr maine patna ke ek coaching me admission liya 6july, 2019 aur 8 july, 2019 se maine class start kiya mujhe waha ke teacher ne force kiye kiya submit krne ko to maine installment me unko 20500 ka 8000 jana kr diya but paisa milne ke bad wo sr achha nhi padha rhe hai ab jab mai unhe paisa refund krne ko bol rhi hu to wo bole paisa wapas nhi milegaMera bs 14 days hi hua hai mai bcom aur cs ke liye tution join ko thi

    REPLY

    IamSky

    In Reply to Sonali Kumari 11 months ago

    Hi sonali ..You can file a complain to your nearby consumers dispute redressing office.They will help you to attain your all fee sure. A legal notice will be sent to the institute Nd then everything will be in your side.

    G.P. LAVANYA

    1 year ago

    Hi Sir,
    We had enrolled our son at Fiitjee coaching institute at Sheshadripuram branch Bangalore for Udaya program which was supposed to start from April 2019. Due to poor coaching or extremely high fees no one has enrolled there. It was near to our house and as they had promised the best coaching we had enrolled by paying rs.41,900.( admission fees plus 1st instalment). They are not conducting classes this year. We have requested for refund many times and have sent lawyer notice from Bangalore lawyer. They haven’t replied and not responding. How to get our money back.. It is a Delhi based institution. Can I approach local consumer court in Bangalore near Sheshadripuram fiitjee center where we have enrolled? Or should we go to Delhi court? Please give us favourable solution. I am very much depressed by losing a huge amount..

    George Ferna

    1 year ago

    Hi sir...
    Just going to join in one collage and we have got the admission for my sister... And we paid 10000 for admission but after in one day my sister didn't like the college so can i get refund amount and certificates back from the college... Plz give a answer

    George Ferna

    1 year ago

    Hi sir...
    Just going to join in one collage and we have got the admission for my sister... And we paid 10000 for admission but after in one day my sister didn't like the college so can i get refund amount and certificates back from the college... Plz give a answer

    REPLY

    Ajay Solanki

    In Reply to George Ferna 1 year ago

    Consumer protection act sec 12 ki application lagaa do pesa mill jayega other information k liyee contact me 8890604557

    Laksh Lalwani

    1 year ago

    Sir,
    My name is Laksh Lalwani
    I am a student of 12
    Sir I took physics coaching from Chadda classes of Jalgaon
    My mother requested for concession in fees as me and my cousin brother both were going to join coaching they accepted and gave us concession but during mid of year they said that for issuing books from class we need to pay 1000rs which are to be refundable at the end of year but when I asked refund they refused and said that we gave you concession in fees so now I am not supposed to get that 1000rs refund. What should I do now please help me sir as 1000 is not less amount for me and my family

    Bharti Thakur

    1 year ago

    Sir maine 1private institute m coaching ke liye admission Lia ta 4feb ko or Mene 42000 pay kr dia h par vo log pure 1yrs ki fees 1sath maag rhe h kya aeisa law h ki vo 1sath fees nhi le skte .. please reply me

    Ankit Negi

    1 year ago

    hello sir
    I paid 12000 rs to an institute for O level exam as a fee for registration. I am not convinced with their teaching . I joined 2 weeks ago. The registration fee of the exam is rs 700 rs. I demand for the cancellation of registration and refund of my money but they denied .
    Please help me sir.

    sandhya rao

    2 years ago

    Hi sir
    My name is sandhya
    We have paid 78500 rs to ekya school on April school reopening date was May 26 but my husband got information of getting transfer on 12 may 2018 so we immediately informed to school.
    Now we filled case on school in consumer forum it's been a year nothing has come out as solution more over now it's in state consumer forum for some reason ...
    If possible pls guide us
    Thanks
    8553504080

    #SATYAM PANDEY

    2 years ago

    Sir
    I fill form sanik school ghrokhal .I submit all details and pay money 430 ruppes but submit process time fill option dob certificate i have no certificate so I am not submit form and my money not back sir pls tell how to back money

    Satender Singh

    2 years ago

    Sir i have got admission in M.Sc Comp Science in KURUKSHETRA UNIVERSITY .I have paid an amount of Rs 20800 for one sem due to absence of income certificate at that time.Now i have the income certificate and i belong to sc,if the fee is refundable

    Puneeth K L

    2 years ago

    Sir I'm admitted to kodagu institute of medical sciences during this year for 1st year mbbs course I have paid 41thousand rupees as fees under state government quota ,now I want to drop the course .is it the fee paid is refundable ?? I belongs to SC category

    Alka Bagoria

    2 years ago

    For competitive exam prepration, i have taken admission in coaching institute. But it is not good. I have attended classes for 3 days. now i can ask from the institute to refund my fees.

    REPLY

    Alka Bagoria

    In Reply to Alka Bagoria 2 years ago

    please reply as soon as possible.

    Madanbhai Nayak

    In Reply to Alka Bagoria 2 years ago

    Submit your detailed complaint at [email protected]

    It’s complicated: Facebook’s history of tracking you

    Facebook is launching an aggressive technique to track people across the Web

    For years people have noticed a funny thing about Facebook's ubiquitous Like button. It has been sending data to Facebook tracking the sites you visit. Each time details of the tracking were revealed, Facebook promised that it wasn't using the data for any commercial purposes.

    No longer. Last week, Facebook announced it will start using its Like button and similar tools to track people across the Internet for advertising purposes.

    Here is the long history of the revelations and Facebook's denials:

    Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg introduces the "transformative" Like button…

    April 21, 2010 – Facebook introduces the "Like" button in 2010 at its F8 developer conference. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declares that it will be "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the Web."

    He says his goal is to encourage a Web where all products and services use people's real identity. He suggests, in fact, that creating a personally identifiable web experience could be divine: "When you go to heaven, all of your friends are all there and everything is just the way you want it to be," he says. "Together, lets build a world that is that good."

    Which sends data…

    Nov. 30, 2010 – Dutch researcher Arnold Roosendaalpublishes a paper showing that Facebook Like buttons transmit data about users even when the user doesn't click on the button. Facebook later says that Roosendaal found a "bug."

    even when users don't click on it…

    May 18, 2011 - The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets collect data about users even when they don't click them. Facebook's chief technology officer says, "we don't use them for tracking and they're not intended for tracking."

    Internet pioneer says log of out Facebook…

    Sept. 24, 2011 – Veteran tech blogger Dave Winer writes that " Facebook is scaring me" with its apps like the social reader, which can automatically share stories you read. This "kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking," he writes. Winer recommends that users log out of Facebook to prevent being tracked on other websites.

    Except logging out doesn't work…

    Sept. 25, 2011 – Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic writes that " Logging Out of Facebook is Not Enough." He shows that Facebook is tracking users even when they log out of the site. Facebook responds that it is fixing the issue so people won't be tracked when they are logged out of Facebook.

    Facebook says not to worry...

    Sept. 27, 2011 – Facebook tells the New York Times that it doesn't use data from Like buttons and other widgets to track users or target advertising to them, and that it deletes or anonymizes the data within 90 days.

    Turns out Facebook has patented the technique…

    Oct. 1, 2011 – Blogger Michael Arrington digs up a Facebook patent application for "a method … for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain." The title of his blog post: " Brutal Dishonesty."

    But, really, don't worry…

    Dec. 7, 2012 – As the Wall Street Journal finds that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets appear on two-thirds of 900 websites surveyed, the company says again it only uses data from unclicked Like buttons for security purposes and to fix bugs in its software.

    OK, worry…

    June 12, 2014 – Facebook tells Ad Age that it will start tracking users across the Internet using its widgets such as the Like button.

    It's a bold move. Twitter and Pinterest, which track people with their Tweet and PinIt buttons, offer users the ability to opt out. And Google has pledged it will not combine data from its ad-tracking network DoubleClick with personally identifiable data without user's opt-in consent. Facebook does not offer an opt-out in its privacy settings.

    Instead Facebook asks members to visit an ad industry page, where they can opt out from targeted advertising from Facebook and other companies. The company also says it will let people view and adjust the types of ads they see.

    We contacted Facebook to ask them about their tracking habits. They didn't respond.

    Read our recent story about how online tracking is getting creepier, and a piece from our archives rounding up the best reporting on Facebook and your privacy.

    Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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    User 

    COMMENTS

    Arbina Tarannum

    1 year ago

    Sir I'm doing mba in jain university but I'm not able to pay my course fee because of financial problem and i want to drop out. I have paid 1.25 lakh. Can i get refund of my fee and my y certificates back without paying the whole course fee?
    Please reply ASAP

    Gaurav Sonker

    3 years ago

    Sir pls tell me how to refund fees in.private clz

    S.K Marya

    3 years ago

    We deposited admission fee in Oct. for nursery class &in Nov. applied for refund of 26000/-due to transfer of father from Noida. Adm. Fee was for session2018-19. School is not refunding adm. fee. Please guide what to do.

    Govind

    3 years ago

    Hello Sir, recently on sept 1, 2017 i took admission in a coaching institute in Chandigarh and joins weekend batch. I Paid Rs. 20000 as 1st installment of institute fee. They shows fee once paid is not refundable in their terms and conditions signed by me on their admission form. As i want to quit now due to some personal issues. Can i get refund of paid fee.

    Amaan Mallick

    3 years ago

    Sir I would like to know that if I have paid 1st sem fees and I would like to leave the college and they are saying that I have to pay full year fee than I would get clc
    Should I have to pay full sem fee.

    Amaan Mallick

    3 years ago

    Sir I would like to know that if I have paid 1st sem fees and I would like to leave the college and they are saying that I have to pay full year fee than I would get clc
    Should I have to pay full sem fee.

    shubham kumar

    4 years ago

    Sir I am at NIET GREATER NODIA college and I have attain the college for 1 week and now I want to leave the college but I have paid my 1st year fee 106700 paid can I get money refundable...

    S Hariharan

    6 years ago

    Facebook is also offering a way to opt out of its new data-gathering system. Here’s how to do so in just two steps.
    Step 1: Go to this page from the Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of advertising trade groups. There you’ll find a list of all the companies that track your browsing to deliver tailored ads. Mostly likely, Facebook is among them.
    Find “Facebook Inc.” under “Companies Customizing Ads For Your Browser” and check off the checkmark to the right.
    Step one.
    Step one. Source: Supplied
    Then just hit “Submit.”
    One important note: Disabling Facebook from tracking on one web browser does not disable it on all browsers. You’ll have to go through this step on all browsers you use to check your Facebook account, even those on the same computer.
    Step 2: Unless you have an ad blocker, you’ll never get Facebook to completely stop using all of the knowledge it has compiled on you. But you can pick and choose some of the things that get thrown into the pile. Over the next several weeks, Facebook will roll out a new tool in the U.S. that will let you add or subtract interests, like “Television” or “Electronics,” that Facebook has attributed to you.
    When this feature is made available, you’ll be able to access it by clicking or tapping the grey arrow in the top-right corner of the ad and then going to “Why am I seeing this?” From there, you’ll be able to edit your list of interests.
    Step two.
    Step two. Source: Supplied
    Again: This second step will not be available for a few more weeks. And if none of this is good enough, there’s always the nuclear option of (gulp) deleting your Facebook.
    This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

    S Hariharan

    6 years ago

    Facebook is also offering a way to opt out of its new data-gathering system. Here’s how to do so in just two steps.
    Step 1: Go to this page from the Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of advertising trade groups. There you’ll find a list of all the companies that track your browsing to deliver tailored ads. Mostly likely, Facebook is among them.
    Find “Facebook Inc.” under “Companies Customizing Ads For Your Browser” and check off the checkmark to the right.
    Step one.
    Step one. Source: Supplied
    Then just hit “Submit.”
    One important note: Disabling Facebook from tracking on one web browser does not disable it on all browsers. You’ll have to go through this step on all browsers you use to check your Facebook account, even those on the same computer.
    Step 2: Unless you have an ad blocker, you’ll never get Facebook to completely stop using all of the knowledge it has compiled on you. But you can pick and choose some of the things that get thrown into the pile. Over the next several weeks, Facebook will roll out a new tool in the U.S. that will let you add or subtract interests, like “Television” or “Electronics,” that Facebook has attributed to you.
    When this feature is made available, you’ll be able to access it by clicking or tapping the grey arrow in the top-right corner of the ad and then going to “Why am I seeing this?” From there, you’ll be able to edit your list of interests.
    Step two.
    Step two. Source: Supplied
    Again: This second step will not be available for a few more weeks. And if none of this is good enough, there’s always the nuclear option of (gulp) deleting your Facebook.
    This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

    Do the Railways care for elderly passengers?

    The couple alleged that during May 2014, they were not allowed to use the esclator facility at Coimbatore station under the pretext of 'out of service', but found it being used to ferry family members of some railway employees

    An elderly couple recently filed a complaint with the Indian Railways, with regard to  the alleged irresponsible and illegal behaviour of the railway employees at Coimbatore Station. The couple alleged that during May 2014, they were not allowed to use the esclator facility at the station under the pretext of 'out of service', but found it being used to ferry family members of some railway employees.

    Padma Raghvan, one of the passengers said, “my husband and I travelled on the 3 May 2014 by Shatabdi Express from Coimbatore to Chennai. The tickets were booked online in advance and the date of travel was unfortunately a couple of days after the bomb blast. In spite of this, there was only cursory checking and also, there were no porters to carry luggage. Eventually, we found a porter willing to move our luggage to the designated platform, which was two floors above. Upon enquiry we were told that there was no escalator, lift or ramp at the station. The only alternative was to climb the stairs - not an easy proposition for us.”

    She further stated, “when we eventually reached the platform, the porter showed us to a shed and asked to wait until the train arrived. The shed seemed to be the exit point of the escalator. As we watched, a man in white uniform without any name badge, inserted a key near the escalator and it began to ascend. He switched it off and handed the key over to a person in mufti (not in uniform). He did not appear to be a Railway employee. The man in mufti started it with the key given to him, reversed the motion and right in front of us a group of people with very little luggage got on to the escalator and went to the platform below where the escalator then stopped.”

    A government official using state property meant to be used in the service of people is against the law and strict action must be taken against concerned officials.

    Railway activist Samir Zaveri, who also runs a Railway Helpline with Moneylife Foundation said, “Railway should immediately respond to the complaint of harrased senior citizens, compensate them and take serious action against the designated officers. Railways cannot discriminate between passengers for offering basic services like escalators which is especially beneficial for senior citizens.”

    Padma Raghvan too said, “I expect to be compensated by Railways for porterage, inconvenience and discrimination in the treatment of passengers.” She also tried to file a complaint on http://www.indianrailways.gov.in but encountered an 'error' while submitting it. Hence she wrote a letter to [email protected] but till now has not get any response from the Railways.

    In her letter to Railways' customer care she asked, “What does this mean? The escalator was in working order at the time we asked about the facility, it was not used for the purpose for which it was installed in the first place - that is for the convenience of passengers. The uniformed man misused his position by allowing young and healthy passengers to have a joyride on it and also reversed its motion to the utter inconvenience of deserving passengers. We, paying passengers were told that it was not working, when, in fact, the escalator was in good working order.”

    Moneylife contacted the chief public relations officer (CPRO) from Southern Railway at Chennai. He said he would forward our mail to the divisional railway manager (DRM) at Salem division, as Coimbatore falls within this zone. We are awaiting a reply and would incorporate it as and when we receive it.
     

    If you have any complaints and suggetions regarding railways you can file it online on: http://customercare.indianrailways.gov.in/criscm/home.seam
    OR you can also file your complaints on http://www.pgportal.gov.in/

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    COMMENTS

    SK Singh

    2 years ago

    Hi Sir, I did an admisaion in a phamacy college. I paid 81k for the admission fee and recently I found out that all other students paid only 61k. I was charged 20k extra. What action can I take against the college?

    Priya Raj

    2 years ago

    please tell me how i get my amout back from. college..

    Priya Raj

    2 years ago

    sir i am prakash kumar.. my scholarship amount has been transferred on college account but college ao is not refunding my amount pls tell me what should I do while i provides all decoment regarding scholarships which is affiliated with bcebc welfare office and i have also paid my tuition fee.. please help me

    Dev

    6 years ago

    Railways never care for passengers.

    Recently I had to visit Calicut in Kerala. I ate lunch from a railway restaurant. I was given horrible food. Why cant the railway insist to give good food to the passengers?

    I think there is big corruption involved in giving licences to shops and restaurants.

    Gopalakrishnan T V

    6 years ago

    The railway authorities have no concern for passengers in general and senior citien passengers in particular. I have been regularly commenting when ever I get a chance to report. It is impossible to register a complaint in the address given by the railways. In 2013 mysel and wife ( both senior citizens)had a very bitter experience in Madurai Jn and I had tried to put up the complaints through e mails, portals etc without success. Finally, I wrote a letter to the Station Superintendent with a copy to DRM,The DRM's office had no courtesy even to acknoledge the letter. However, the SS contacted me over phone and said sorry for the incoveniences i encountered for the authority's laxity and callousness even to make proper announcement of the arrival of a train and the platform in which the train will arrive. They put some number in the notice board and in the last minutute they change the platform and do not make any announcement to that effect. Passengers had to rush with their kith and kin and luggage. Elders and seniore are simply dragged and pushed here and there making all possible chaos and confusion. The concerns and problems encounttered by the passengers are not given any serious consideratio and possible solutions are not even thought of leave alone implemnented. Many things are happening and Finally Jane Do attitude of Passengers and indifference and insensitivity approach of the employees continue to prevail and some fellows take the trouble of complaining but without any hope of having any solution.

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    6 years ago

    Nothing in India is customer friendly. Every organization, including foreign ones take their cue from how the Government treats Indian citizens.

    Sudheer M

    6 years ago

    Railways does not even care for the basic minimum requirements of Senior Citizens. For eg., in Yeshwanthpur Kannur express (16527-528), if a couple of Senior Citizen book their tickets, normally they will be allotted middle and upper berths. Very rarely one gets Lower berth. Interestingly, happened to see that the lower berths in the same section where allotted to young people.

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