New Delhi: Global computer education firm NIIT Ltd has been ordered by the apex consumer commission to pay Rs 1.73 lakh to its former student for cutting short her duration of professional practice with the institute by five months and not paying her the stipend due for that period.
The woman had enrolled herself in NIIT`s GNIIT course comprising four semesters of classroom coaching and one year of professional practice as an employee/stipendee.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission`s (NCDRC) gave the direction to NIIT while partly allowing city resident Anu Kohli`s plea for enhancement of the compensation awarded to her by a district forum here, whose order had been upheld by the Delhi State Consumer Commission.
The NCDRC, however, dismissed the NIIT`s plea for setting aside the concurrent verdicts of the two lower foras and said the institute`s failure to pay her the stipend for the entire duration of her professional practice amounted to cheating and playing with the life of a student.
"The opposite party (NIIT) failed to pay the stipend during this period (last five months of course)... This shows cheating on the part of opposite party in order to save money. They have played with the life of a student.
"We dismiss the revision petition filed by the opposite party and partly allow the second appeal filed by complainant (Kohli). The opposite party is directed to pay her Rs 38,944 towards fee (deposited by her)...
"The opposite party is also directed to pay Rs one lakh to her as compensation for harassment and Rs 35,000 as stipend (due to her) for the five months (of professional practice)," the bench presided by Justice J M Malik said.
While passing its order, the NCDRC relied on NIIT`s letter to Kohli, converting her professional practice into project mode and informing her that she will not be paid any stipend for the remaining period of the course.
Referring to the letter, the NCDRC also rued that "foras below have not appreciated the documents properly" while passing their orders. The District forum had only partially allowed Kohli`s complaint by holding NIIT guilty of negligence, deficiency in service of class room teaching as well as inefficient facility and had directed it to pay her Rs 40,000 as compensation.
The state commission had upheld the district forum`s order and had refused to interfere with it, while dismissing appeals by Kohli and NIIT, seeking enhancement of compensation and setting aside of the verdict respectively.
In her complaint to the district forum, Kohli had not only alleged non-payment of stipend for the last five months of her GNIIT course, but had also said that NIIT lacked well-trained faculty and infrastructure for teaching the course.
She had said after seven months of professional practice, with NIIT itself, the institute had converted it into project mode for remaining five months, contrary to GNIIT scheme.
She had also alleged that NIIT had not granted her a certificate for the duration of the GNIIT course undertaken by her.
In its defence, NIIT had contended before the NCDRC that as Kohli had completed only eight months of her professional practice and thereafter had abandoned the course on her own, she was not entitled to a GNIIT certificate.
The NCDRC, however, rejected the contention saying "It is clear that complainant (Kohli) was compelled to leave the course. We are informed she used to get stipend of Rs 7,000 per month. If this much amount is denied, how can she carry on her studies. This goes to reveal that respondent (NIIT) was terribly remiss in discharge of its duties."
It also pulled up NIIT saying "it is clear that for money people can stoop down to any extent. It is well said that money is the biggest seed of strife in the world."