Published: 03rd November 2021
Supreme Court to examine whether education is a 'service' within Consumer Protection Act
The father of a boy who drowned initially filed a consumer complaint with the State Commission alleging negligence and deficiency in service on part of the school
Hearing an appeal filed by a father whose son drowned while at a summer camp arranged by his school, the Supreme Court has agreed to examine the issue of whether education is a 'service' within the Consumer Protection Act. A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna noted that a similar legal issue is pending adjudication in another case and tagged the matter along with it.
The father had moved the apex court, challenging an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which said that educational institutions do not fall within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and education, which includes co-curricular activities such as swimming, is not a 'service' within the meaning of the Act. The man's son was studying at a school that offered summer camp activities in 2007, including swimming, and invited students to participate after paying Rs 1,000.
On May 28, 2007, he received an urgent call from the school requesting him to come immediately as his son was unwell. Upon reaching the school, the man was informed that his son had been taken to the hospital as he had drowned in the school's swimming pool. He then rushed to the hospital where he learnt that his son was brought dead.
Thereafter, he filed a consumer complaint with the State Commission alleging negligence and deficiency in service on part of the school and claimed Rs 20 lakh as compensation for the death of his son as well as Rs 2 lakh on account of mental agony suffered by him and Rs 55,000 towards the cost of litigation. The State Commission dismissed the complaint on the ground that the complainant is not a consumer.