SC to examine if universities can be sued under consumer law
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal, challenging a verdict of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which raised the question, whether an educational institution or university can be sued for deficiency in services under the consumer protection law.
 
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, admitting the appeal, said: "Since there are divergent views of this court bearing on the subject as to whether an educational institution or University would be subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the appeal would require admission." The order was passed by the top court on October 15.
 
The appeal has been filed by Manu Solanki and other students of a medical course against Vinayaka Mission University at Salem, Tamil Nadu.
 
The top court also asked advocate Soumyajit, representing the caveator university, to file the response within six weeks.
 
The students have alleged that the university has indulged into unfair trade practice and there was deficiency of service, as it induced them to take admission in a course on an assurance that requisite approvals from the authorities have been obtained.
 
In 2005-2006, the students were admitted in an offshore programme of two-year study in Thailand and two-and-a half year study in the university in India.
 
They were assured that the MBBS final degree is recognised by the Indian Government and Medical Council of India. However, after completion of studies in Thailand, the students were told to continue their course there. The students' in their plea said they were informed that a Foreign Medical Degree will be conferred on them and they would have to appear for screening test in India.
 
The university had objected to the maintainability of this plea contending that petitioners are not consumers and education is not a commodity.
 
The university cited top court verdicts in the Maharishi Dayanand University and in the PT Koshy cases where it was held that education is not a commodity and educational institutions do not provide any kind of service.
 
As a result, there cannot be any deficiency of service to be adjudicated upon in consumer forum or commissions, the university had argued. However, the students contested this with other verdicts, which held educational institutions fall under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
 
In January, the NCDRC, in its verdict, had said 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, therefore, not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
 
The students have appealed this verdict in the top court.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Consumers may get relief on petrol, diesel prices this festive season
    Consumers can cheer as oil marketing companies (OMC) may actually bring down the retail prices of petrol and diesel this festive season.
     
    Oil sector experts said that with global oil prices under pressure from slowing demand in the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic sweeping several western countries, crude price could fall in coming days. If this holds on for a week or so, there could be positive gains for auto fuel consumers in India by way of a fall in retail price of petrol and diesel.
     
    Global crude prices are holding close to $ 42 a barrel now. It has been hovering between $ 40-42 a barrel for over a month now. But with lower oil demand and rising inventory, there is fear a song oil producing companies that crude prices may start falling again.
     
    OMCs in India have been holding on to the retail price of petrol and diesel for close to a month now. Even on Wednesday, the price of two petrol products remained unchanged. With this, petrol prices have now been unchanged for 29 days at a stretch while diesel prices were the same for the 19 consecutive days.
     
    Price of petrol in the national capital was at Rs 81.06 per litre. In Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, the fuel was sold for Rs 87.74, Rs 84.14 and Rs 82.59 per litre, respectively.
     
    Diesel prices in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata were at Rs 70.46, Rs 76.86, Rs 75.95 and Rs 73.99, respectively.
     
    But with fresh indications on global oil prices, domestic oil companies could revise the retail price downwards. However, their margins would be protected as oil demand in the country had picked up latterly getting over even the last years numbers.
     
    Retail sales have picked up with the gradual reopening of the economic activities. First time since lockdown, diesel sale in the country has crossed over the pre-covid level with the country's most widely consumed fuel witnessing a nine per cent year-on-year growth in the first 15 days of October.
     
    The surge in demand after months of subdued sales is the direct result of an increase in the transport activities ahead of the festival season as consumers move out to make those necessary purchases.
     
    According to official sources, during the first fortnight of October, diesel sales increased by 9 per cent (YoY) to reach 2.65 million tonne. The growth is even more significant at close to 25 per cent in relation to the previous month of September.
     
    In the first 15 days of October, petrol sales also rose, but substantially lower at 1.5 per cent to close to one million tonne.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

     

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    MahaRERA Slaps One Lakh Penalty on Developer Niraj Kakad Constructions for Mental Harassment of Homebuyer
    MahaRERA has awarded Rs one lakh as compensation to a homebuyer for delayed possession and mental harassment. The developer Niraj Kakad Constructions will have to pay this penalty to the homebuyer for mental harassment and not being able to deliver possession for over six years after payment of the first installment. The developer has also been directed to refund Rs1.52 crore with 10.40% per annum (p.a) interest from the date of payment (2014 onwards).
     
    The senior citizen homebuyer, Sachhanand Tejwani had booked flat number 601 in Devi Kakad Solitaire project near Sindhi Society in Chembur in his daughter Sneha’s name. He paid 85% of the total flat cost of Rs 1.65 crore in tranches since 2014. The agreement for sale was signed in June 2016 with the promise of giving possession on or before 30 August 2017 with a rider for a 6 months grace period.
     
    As per Mr Tejwani, when he approached the developer for possession in September 2017, he found only eight slabs out of 15 had been completed, and the work had stopped due to technical issues and lack of further permissions from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The developer promised to deliver possession but Mr Tejwani discovered that that the owners of the land, on which this redevelopment project stands, had terminated the 2013 development agreement with the developer and arbitration proceedings were on. 
     
    Mr Tejwani demanded a refund of his money, but the developer did not agree, hence Mr Tejwani filed a complaint with MahaRERA in 2019. 
    The counsel for Niraj Kakad Constructions argued that the complaint be dismissed as MahaRERA had extended the completion timelines to 26 June 2020 and hence the complaint was premature. The lawyer admitted that the arbitrator had given his ruling on 26 April 2019 and the developer had challenged the ruling. 
     
    The lawyer claimed that Niraj Kakad Constructions was unable to complete the project due to illegal termination of the development agreement on 1 December 2016. The lawyer further provided various other reasons (demonetization, imposition of GST, overall slowdown in the real estate sector) for the inordinate delay in the project completion.
     
    MahaRERA member held that Mr Tejwani was entitled to withdraw from the project and get their money refunded with interest. He pointed out that the developer had a period of about 21 months till February 2018 to deliver the project and 85% of the flat cost had already been received by the firm.
     
    Mr Kulkarni noted that the property card showed that the land belonged to Sindhi Immigrant Cooperative Housing Society, and the IOD (intimation of disapproval) was issued in the name of the society secretary. He said the clause E in the agreement stated that Tulsibai Jagasia, and two members of her family held the leasehold right of the property. They signed a development agreement with Niraj Kakad Constructions in August 2013, obtained the IOD in December 2010 and revised IOD and CC were obtained by the society in November 2013. On 1 December 2016, Jagasias terminated the development agreement on the ground that the developer violated the agreement by selling flats including the flat of Tejwanis behind their back, according to the order. 
     
    The order says “The notice issued by Jagasia family shows that respondent entered into an agreement with the complainant without complying with terms of development agreement. Thus it was the respondent who was at fault in not complying with terms of development agreement. Respondent cannot take benefit of the wrong committed by him”. 
     
    Mr Kulkarni overruled the generic argument that the project was delayed due to demonetization, GST, slowdown in the market. 
     
    The housing regulator said “However, respondent had received as much as 85 per cent of the consideration amount from the complainant. Now we are in the year 2020. Respondent is still not in a position to hand over possession.
     
    There are no justifying reasons for the delay and the respondent must blame himself for the arbitration award which went against him” while awarding the refund subject to the final High Court orders in the arbitration case. 
     
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