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The Apex Court will consider whether education falls under the purview of the Consumer Protection Ac

By Mansi Tekam

28th November 2021: A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna of the Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether education is a service within the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The bench also noted that a similar issue has been pending in Manu Solanki and Others vs Vinayaka Mission University and clubbed the new case with the one in pendency. The facts of the case were such that a student died drowning in a swimming pool during a "Summer Camp" organised by his school. The deceased son's father filed a consumer complaint with the State Commission, citing negligence and deficiency in service on the side of the school. He sought a sum of Rs. 20 lakh as compensation for his son's death, Rs. 2 lakh for mental anguish, and Rs. 55,000 for litigation costs. The State Commission rejected the complaint on the ground that the complainant was not a customer. The father challenged the order before National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). The NCDRC ruled that education, which includes co-curricular activities like swimming, is not a "service" under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. The national commission relied on its larger bench judgement in Manu Solanki and Others Vinayaka Mission University (2020) and the Supreme Court's rulings on the subject. In the Solanki case, the national consumer commission ruled that, except coaching institutions, institutions offering education, including vocational courses and other activities undertaken during the pre-admission as well as post-admission process, and also imparting excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, and so on, were not covered by the Consumer Protection Act. However, because the Supreme Court has issued conflicting rulings on the matter in several cases, its decision under consideration is expected to clear out the legal situation.

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