The Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked the Alvas Institute of Engineering and Technology to pay Rs. 1,48,500 collected from two students along with interest at 9 per cent per annum.

It also asked the institute, represented by its Chairman M. Mohan Alva, to pay Rs.1,000 to each of them as cost of the litigation.

K. Sudhir Rao of Kadri Kaibatlu paid Rs. 1,02,150 and Rajani B. of Kodialbail paid Rs. 50,500 to reserve seats for their children Ashish Rao and Bharath respectively while they awaited the CET results for 2010-11. But before regular classes could start, the students got merit seats and got admissions elsewhere.

The complainants sought return of the original certificate and refund of fees paid by them. But the institution refused to do so citing a clause under the declaration by the complainants saying they were not entitled for refund of the fees paid. It maintained that they had joined the college on their own.

In identical judgments delivered recently by its president Asha Shetty, the forum quoted the Nipun Nagar vs. Symbiosis Institute of International Business where the National Commission quoting a public notice issued by the University Grants Commission and held that the institution was unfair and unjust in retaining the tuition fee even after the students withdrew from their institute. If a student leaves before attending a single day of the college or school, he was entitled to total refund except for a small registration fee, say Rs. 1,000, it had observed. The UGC had directed refund of money to the students for the period for which they had not attended the institution.

It quoted the UGC, which said: “It would not be permissible for institutions … to retain the school leaving certificate, mark sheets, caste certificate, and other documents in original.” It wanted them to maintain a waiting list of students so that when a student withdrew, the waitlisted candidate was given admission against the vacant seat. “Should a student leave after joining the course and if the seat consequently falling vacant has been filled by another candidate by the last date of admission, the institution must return the fee collected with proportionate deductions…” the UGC said.

The forum said the institution had not substantiated that the complainants had indeed attended the class and that the seat was kept vacant. “The opposite party institution is not fair in withholding the tuition fee by raising a contention that once the fee is paid it cannot be refunded.”

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