Coaching institute Khan Study Group fined Rs 5 lakh for misleading ads
The Central Consumer Protection Authority has imposed a Rs 5 lakh penalty on Khan Study Group (KSG) after it found that the coaching centre's claims about successful candidates were misleading, with concealed information about the courses opted by the candidates
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on the Khan Study Group (KSG) for engaging in misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices related to the UPSC Civil Services Exam. The decision was made to uphold consumer rights, with the CCPA taking note of the violation of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare and Commissioner Anupam Mishra-led CCPA issued an order against KSG, highlighting the deceptive claims made in its advertisements.
The scrutiny of IAS coaching institutes intensifies every year with the release of the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Services Exam results. Institutes often launch aggressive advertising campaigns, showcasing successful candidates as their own without providing details about the courses, fees, or duration of their programs. Taking suo-moto cognizance of the situation, the CCPA issued notices to various IAS coaching institutes, including KSG.
KSG's advertisements made bold claims, asserting that 682 out of 933 selected students, all top 5 successful candidates of UPSC Civil Services Exam 2022, and Ishita Kishore, who secured AIR 1, were from KSG. However, the preliminary inquiry by CCPA revealed that KSG concealed information about the courses opted by the candidates in the UPSC exam. A notice was issued to KSG on August 3, 2023, seeking clarification.
In response, KSG claimed that out of the 682 successful candidates highlighted in the advertisement, 674 had participated in the free-of-cost Mock Interview Program. The CCPA, entrusted with protecting consumer rights, initiated a detailed investigation. The findings revealed that only 8 successful candidates had taken guidance for additional courses in previous years, a fact not disclosed in KSG's advertisements.
The CCPA discovered that all 5 toppers of the UPSC CS exam 2022, including Ishita Kishore, took only the Mock Interview from KSG, which was provided free of cost. KSG was found taking undue credit for the candidates' efforts by prominently featuring their pictures in the advertisements, misleading UPSC aspirants.
The UPSC's press release dated May 23, 2023, revealed that out of 11,35,697 candidates who applied for the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2022, 13,090 qualified for the Main Examination. A total of 2,529 candidates qualified for the Personality Test and 933 candidates were recommended for appointment to various services.
It is well-known that successful candidates in the Civil Services Examination must clear all three stages: Prelims, Main Exams, and Personality Test (PT). While the Prelims serve as a screening test, the marks obtained in both Main Exams and PT are considered for final selection. The CCPA found that KSG's misleading advertisement created a significant impact on UPSC aspirants by concealing the fact that the candidates had already cleared Preliminary and Mains examinations independently.
In conclusion, the CCPA's decision to penalize KSG underscores the importance of truthful and honest advertisements, ensuring consumers are informed and protected against unfair trade practices. The guidelines issued by CCPA in 2022 emphasize the conditions for non-misleading and valid advertisements, emphasizing clarity, prominence, and transparency in disclosures for viewers.