15 Oct 2008, 0556 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Lucknow, has awarded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to a student who waited for five and half years to obtain his marksheet for a back-paper examination which he undertook in 1999. The commission also held that an educational institution, while imparting education/or holding examination, does render a service as defined in the Consumer Protection Act.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Bhanwar Singh on October 1 in Kaushal Mani Tripathi versus vice-chancellor and registrar of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University, Faizabad and principal, Maharani Lal Kunwari Mahavidyalaya, Balrampur case. A sum of Rs 20 lakh has been awarded against the opposite parties whose liability would be joint as well as several.
The complainant, Kaushal Mani Tripathi, had filed a complaint for recovery of Rs 30 lakh as compensation and Rs 50,000 as damages (as litigation costs of filing the complaint, a writ petition and contempt proceedings etc). The complainant had passed MSc I Maths examination in 1998 and was permitted to appear in MSc II examination with the roll number 39460 in 1999 by the principal of Maharani Lal Kunwari Mahavidyalaya, Balrampur.
He was declared ‘failed’ in the IInd year examination and on his request he was permitted to appear in the back-paper examination of third paper (Dynamics and Hydrodynamics) held on October 29, 1999. However, the result of the back-paper was not declared for long time.
It was after repeated requests and written representations could not evoke action on the part of the opposite parties that he filed a writ petition in the high court.
The high court issued an order on May 24, 2004, directing the opposite parties to declare the result of the complainant. But, the order was taken lightly by the opposite parties and complainant, therefore, filed a contempt petition. However, the same was dismissed by the court because in the meantime the complainant’s back-paper result was declared (on April 11, 2004). The complainant then approached the commission.
On the other hand, opposite parties no 1 and 2 (V-C and registrar) in their joint statement filed with the commission had asserted that the issue raised by the complainant was not cognizable by a consumer forum. They further mentioned that since his marksheet was issued to him on March 31, 2005, he had no cause to file a complaint for damages or compensation. The opposite parties also contested that the complainant is ‘misusing and abusing the process of law’ since he obtained ‘zero’ marks in the paper — functional analysis MSc final maths examination and was declared ‘failed’.
The opposite parties also mentioned that the complainant’s roll number 39460 was not clearly legible on the attendance sheet of the concerned paper and also his answer book and this delayed the result. A thorough vigilance enquiry was conducted which took time to investigate. However, in the interest of the complainant’s career he was given optimum marks on best assessment basis in order to avoid further delay. Thus, there was no deliberate or intentional delay on the part of the answering opposite parties. As the opposite party no 3 did not come forward to contest this case despite service of notice, exparte proceedings were drawn against him.
The commission, however, observed that inordinate delay in declaring the result has not only completely blocked but ruined the career of the complainant. It ruled that the case is of deficiency in service and rejected the contention of the opposite parties that the complainant is neither a consumer nor they (opposite parties) are rendering to him any service.
The commission also did not buy the argument of opposite parties that the complainant’s roll number was not legible. The theory is self-contradictory, said the oder. Why the principle of awarding optimum marks has been adopted in the answer sheet with illegible roll number had been traced and found.
The opposite parties’ claim about setting up a vigilance enquiry after preliminary enquiries could not produce results also failed to convince the commission. The opposite parties did not present as evidence the reports of preliminary enquiries and the vigilance enquiry. They also did not submit the original attendance sheet and the answer book of the complainant, the commission observed.
The commission has assessed Rs 16,50,000 as compensation for the complainant for his five and half years been wasted.
Besides, the commission also awarded damages to the tune of Rs 3.50 lakh on account of complainant’s physical and mental harassment as also the costs of litigation.