Consumer forum pulls up college for deficient service
The Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ordered St Aloysius College to reimburse double the tuition fee towards four students for misleading them by starting an unapproved Post Graduate media course in the years 2008 and 2009.
In the year 2008, students Reena S and Sandhya C D’Souza and in 2009, students Harsha Raj Gatty and Wilma Lydia Serrao had enrolled to a two year post graduate programme ‘M S Communication,’ and ‘Master of Communication and Media Studies’ by paying Rs 80,000 and Rs 1,14,000 as fees respectively.
However, the students failed to receive their convocation certificates from the Mangalore University even after completion of their course, as St Aloysius College commenced the post graduate programmes without the prior approval from statutory body such as the Mangalore University.
According to the judgment delivered recently by Forum President Asha Shetty, the Consumer Forum points out that, “Just because St Aloysius Institution became autonomous from the academic year 2007-2008, it cannot act according to their whims and fancies and take a joy ride on students and play with the career of the students”.
It further states, “St Aloysius Institution cannot be allowed to take advantage of its own wrong by playing with careers of young students, the same is grossest kind of deficiency in service and unfair trade practice”. “The complainants (students) suffered immensely in terms of money, time and career and demanding adequate compensation by the complainants is justifiable,” the forum observed.
The Forum has directed St Aloysius College represented by Principal Rev Swebert D’Silva SJ to pay double the tuition fee that is Rs 2,28,000 to students Harsha Raj Gatty and Wilma Lydia Serrao of 2009 batch and Rs 1,60,000 to students Reena S and Sandhya C D’Souza of 2008 batch. Further, it is asked to pay Rs 2,000 each to the complainants towards the cost of the litigation expense. The forum has further ordered St Aloysius College to issue the PG degree certificates as undertaken by them in the convocation to be held in April-May 2013. The forum states, “In case St Aloysius College failed to award the PG degree certificates in the convocation held on April-May 2013, the College is hereby directed to pay further damages of Rs 2 lakh each to the students apart from the above damages so awarded.”
The forum has given the College a 30 day time period to make the payment. In case the college fails to pay the compensation within the stipulated time, the College is directed to pay interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum on the above said total amount from the date of failure to the date of payment.
Reacting to the court order, St Aloysius College Principal Fr Swebert D’Silva SJ told Deccan Herald, “we feel that the order of the consumer forum has not taken into consideration the privileges of an Autonomous College which are bestowed on them by the UGC to start a new course. The order does not appreciate the distinction between an affiliated college and an autonomous college. We strongly feel that the order is based on hypothetical assumptions and therefore the College has decided to appeal against the order in the higher forums”.