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Once awarded, scholarship grant can’t be denied to student for failing exam

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The Times of India | Dec 26, 2016 |

Students, who has been granted a scholarship, but the amount has not been disbursed, can file a consumer complaint under the Consumer Protection Act.  Case Study: Ankita Pradeep Kumar Jain of Damoh District of Madhya Pradesh was a student of the Principal K M Kundnani College of Pharmacy at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai. After competing the B. Pharmacy in 2011, she enrolled for the two years M. Pharmacy course. Ankita had undergone the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT), and had secured a scholarship of Rs 8,000 per month, totalling Rs 1,92,000 per year for two years. The college granted the scholarship for the first year. But when Ankita failed in one of the theory papers, she was denied the scholarship. She cleared the first year exam in November 2011 and the second year exams in May 2012.

Aggrieved, Ankita filed a complaint before the South Mumbai District Forum. She used the Right to Information Act to obtain documents from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).  She obtained information from the Bombay College of Pharmacy to establish that the sanctioned scholarship is granted to students who continue their studies regardless of whether they pass or fail. Ankita claimed that the amount of Rs 96,000 for the second year scholarship should be paid to hear along with 12% interest.  The college contested the complaint, questioning it maintainability. It also argued that Ankita was not entitled to scholarship for the second year. The forum upheld the arguments of Advocate Baliram Kamble who appeared for Ankita. It held that that Ankita was a consumer as she had paid fees to the college, and so the complaint was maintainable. On merits, the forum noticed that the college had admitted receipt of the second year’s scholarship amount but had stated that it had been returned without producing any proof to show that it had really been returned. The forum concluded that there was deficiency in service and that the college had also indulged in unfair trade practice.

 Accordingly, by its order of November 10 delivered by G K Rathod the presiding officer for the bench along with member S G Chabukswar, the forum upheld the complaint. It order the college to pay Ankita Rs 96,000 along with 12% interest starting from July 25, 2013. Additionally, the forum awarded Rs1 lakhs for the mental agony caused in followingup the complaint all the way from Madhya Pradesh. Costs of Rs 5,000 were also awarded.  Conclusion: A consumer complaint can be filed for failure to disburse scholarship which has been granted.  (The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is jehangir.gai.columnist@outlook.in)  – Courtesy

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