The Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked the Alvas Education Foundation to refund Rs. 37,460 paid as fees by a student.
The Moodbidri-based Alvas Pre-University College, which a student Anushree B. Shetty of Shiriyara village in Udupi district, sought to join, had declined to refund the fees under the forfeiture clause. Ms. Shetty and her father M. Balakrishna Shetty said in their complaint they had paid Rs. 37,950 on May 27, 2009 for 2009-10. Ms. Shetty was allotted boarding facility at Hemavathi Hostel. She found that the room was small and it had to be shared with three others. They said the college had initially agreed to accommodate her in some other room but later, on its inability to do so, Ms. Shetty joined some other college. They sought a direction to repay the amount along with 18 per cent interest and claimed compensation of Rs. 30,000, including the cost of litigation. The college and the foundation said she had joined the college on her own volition and maintained that at no point of time she had informed them about any shortcomings. They contended that as per the forfeiture clause in the application form, signed by them, the educational fee as well as hostel fee was not refundable. They said the hostel had spacious rooms with table, and chair, cot, cupboard, electrical lights and fan. Mr. Shetty produced a registered letter of May 29, 2009 sent to the college explaining the circumstances that forced his daughter to shift to another college. The forum said: “The opposite parties (had) not taken any steps either to change the hostel facility or … (ask Anushree) to make their own arrangement with regard to the hostel facility.” It said this amounted to deficiency of service. It added “… The Opposite party institution cannot compel the students to avail the hostel if they are not comfortable .”It observed that the college should have refunded the fees because the student had not availed the service of the college. Regarding the forfeiture clause, the forum quoted State Commissions and National Commission to say that “no service provider like educational centres can be allowed to forfeit the fees received in advance in case the student has not availed the service.” The forum in its order of February 8 asked the college to refund within 30 days, Rs. 37,460 after certain deductions with an interest at 8 per cent from the date of complaint till the date of payment. It awarded Rs. 1,000 as cost of the litigation expenses.