School asked to refund fee

School asked to refund fee

In a case that is bound to support parents’ right to demand fee refund from schools, the Bangalore IV Additional Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ruled in favour of a parent who was fighting a case of fee refund against Innisfree House School, JP Nagar, for more than a year.

On March 15, the forum directed the school to pay Shekhar Chauhan (name changed), Rs 1.2 lakh (a large chunk of admission fee) along with interest and litigation fees.

It all began when Shekhar sought admission for his son to class I at Innisfree House in January 2012. As admission fee, Shekhar paid Rs 1.5 lakh, but later decided to withdraw as he wanted to admit the child to another school. Consequently, Shekhar asked for a refund, but the school refused.

Repeated requests and emails to the school on the issue fell on deaf ears and it was only in May 2012, five months after the amount was paid, that the school responded.

“After all that time, they claimed they could give me back only Rs 31,600 of the total amount and that the rest was non-refundable,” said Shekhar. “I had informed about the withdrawal one term in advance, i.e., before the school started in June and before the close of the second term, i.e., December 15. This was in accordance with their own policy. They should have refunded the amount.”    

When the school refused to comply, Shekhar decided to approach the Department of Education. “I wrote to many educational authorities, but there was no response.” He finally approached the consumer forum. The school argued the withdrawal had caused inconvenience in ‘managing of finances’ and ‘upkeep of the school’ and hence they could not refund the amount. This was rejected by the consumer forum, as no proof was furnished to support this argument.

  The forum observed that the act of the school amounted to “illegal monetary gain and unlawful enrichment” and directed the school to refund the remaining fee within 30 days.
“No one forced the man to admit his son to the school. It is a process everyone has followed here and will in future. The forum should honour the mandate of the school rather than looking at schools as agents who fleece parents. We will refund the fees once we receive the order,” said S Bolar, founder, Innisfree House School.