15 Feb : Students misled by educational institutes on affiliation and recognition awarded to their courses can drag them to consumer courts, the Supreme Court has said while asking a bogus dental college in Bihar to pay Rs 22 lakh as combined compensation to 11 students.
Holding that wrong claims by educational institutes amount to deficiency in service under the Consumer Protection Act, the court directed the Buddhist Mission Dental College and Hospital, Bihar, to pay Rs two lakh each to 11 students who lost two academic years due its false claim.
The dental college was pulled up for making false claims on affiliation to the Magadh University and recognition of its BDS (Bachelor of Dental Science) course by the Dental Council of India (DCI).
The compensation of Rs two lakh would be in addition to the Rs 30,000 penalty imposed on it by the National Consumer Redressal Commission, the apex court said.
"We are of the opinion that the appellant institute by giving totally misleading and false advertisement clearly misled the respondents (students) that the institute is affiliated to the Magadh University and recognised by the Dental Council of India," bench.
"The respondents have lost their two valuable academic years which would have tremendous impact on their future career," a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H S Bedi observed.
"The respondents were admitted to the BDS Course for receiving education for a consideration by the appellant college which was neither affiliated nor recognised for imparting education. This clearly falls within the purview of deficiency as defined in the Consumer Protection Act," the apex court said while dismissing the appeal.
Petitioner Bhupesh and other aggrieved students had joined the college in 1993 for pursuing the four-year BDS course after being lured by the false affiliation and recognition claims of the college in newspaper advertisements.
However, subsequently during the course of study the students realised that the college neither had affiliation to Magadh University nor did its courses have recognition from the DCI.
They approached the NCRDC which awarded them relief, upon which the college filed an appeal in the apex court.
According to the apex court, on the basis of the evidence led in the case it was clear that the college is neither affiliated with the Magadh University nor recognised by the Dental Council of India.
"In absence of affiliation by the Magadh University and recognised by the Dental Council of India, the appellant institute could not have started admissions in the four-year degree course of BDS," the bench observed.
The apex court said that the Commission rightly came to the conclusion that this was a case of total misrepresentation on behalf of the institute which tantamount to unfair trade practice.