Unacademy, Byju's IAS, Drishti IAS, and Vajirao & Reddy Institute are among 20 IAS coaching centres which are being probed for alleged misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices of using toppers and successful candidates' names and pictures to influence prospective aspirants.
The regulator of consumer protection Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) chairperson Nidhi Khare said that out of 20 institutes, a penalty of Rs 1 lakh each has also been imposed on four centres – Rau's IAS Study Circle, Chahal Academy, IQRA IAS and IAS Baba.
“We have sent notices to Vajirao & Reddy Institute, Chahal Academy, Khan Study Group IAS, APTI Plus, Analog IAS, Shankar IAS, Sriram's IAS, BYJU's IAS, Unacademy, NEXT IAS, Drishti IAS, IQRA IAS, Vision IAS, IAS Baba, Yojana IAS, Plutus IAS, ALS IAS, Rau's IAS Study Circle and Dhishti IAS,” she said.
She said that notices are regarding deliberately concealing important information about successful students in the last one-and-half years.
“We have imposed a penalty on four centres, while other cases are under investigation,” Khare said.
The issue came to the notice of CCPA through the website of IQRA IAS Institute. The authority found that the institute, which was established in 2018, deliberately and falsely claimed through the testimonials of top-rank holders of UPSC CSE in 2015 and 2017 as their students which was factually deceiving.
“IQRA IAS hosted testimonials of All India Rank holders Tina Dabi (AIR-1, 2015); Athar Amir Ul Safi Khan, (AIR-2, 2015); Himanshu Kaushik, (AIR-77, 2015); Saifin (AIR-570, 2017). How can it be possible when the institute itself was set up in 2018. This is a clear case of deceiving students through false claims,” an official of CCPA said.
The official said after the UPSC final results in 2022, a total of 933 candidates were recommended. However, the total selections claimed by the 20 institutes exceeded the UPSC's recommendations significantly.
Numerous coaching institutes claim the same rank holder as their student as successful candidate might have taken coaching in multiple institutes for different subjects, and for prelim or main exams.
“These institutes don't clearly disclose what courses successful students were enrolled in with the institute. Some might have just taken a ‘free mock interview', but the institute claims success once the students get through the UPSC,” Khare said.
Prospective aspirants continue to take coaching from such centres and waste their time and money, she added.
“If there are proper disclosures, there will be less deceiving,” Khare added.
According to CCPA, the current market revenue of the coaching industry in India is about Rs 58,088 crore. Approximately 2 lakh students move to Kota for IIT-JEE and premedical coaching in Rajasthan annually, while Delhi is often considered the hub of UPSC-CSE coaching.
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