Mumbai: The JBCN International School in Parel, its principal and director, have been directed by a consumer commission to refund 75% of Rs2.35 lakh school fee for a student whose admission was withdrawn during the Covid-19 pandemic. The school had earlier declined the refund saying it would lead to loss due to a vacant seat.
On complaint by Matunga resident Gaurav Khandhar, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Central Mumbai, stated that the school could not prove its case and awarded an additional Rs 22,500 towards mental agony and litigation cost, to be paid in 30 days, failing which it would attract 6% interest per annum. The order was passed by Commission president SS Mhatre and Member MP Kasar.
The 2021 admission
Khandhar had taken admission for his child in the pre-primary section for Term 1 and 2 for a fee of Rs 2.23 lakh between May and July 2021. Besides education, the fees covered play, art and cultural endeavours. Due to Covid, he was informed by the principal that the fees will be reduced. However, no such reduction happened and Khandhar felt that there was inattentiveness towards his child.
Khandhar wanted to withdraw the admission and asked for a refund. When asked by the school, he said if there is a death in the family during the pandemic, he would not be able to bear the fees. The school promised to refund but eventually didn’t, stating that the request was rejected when discussed by a committee, and only deposit amount could be refunded.
The school contended that withdrawal came in August 2021 and that Khandhar was never promised refund or fee reduction. It also contended that as per court order, if admission is withdrawn after admission date and seat remains vacant then parents will not get any refund.
The Commission observed that the school could not prove the reasons. It said that due to Covid, extracurricular activities didn’t happen and the school didn’t present its case on many occasions and did not even give clarity on its admission date.
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