BYJU’S founding partner, Pravin Prakash who represented CEO Byju Raveendran announced that the ed-tech company will discontinue selling tuition and providing loans to low-income families. The announcement was made during a December 23 closed-door hearing before The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The company will do affordability checks and will not sell courses or provide loans to families whose monthly income is below Rs 25,000.
NCPCR issued summons after a two-part Context exposé into Byju’s workplace culture and customer service procedures, it was revealed that the company has been engaging in unethical business practices to exploit the parents to buy the courses.
While interviewing the customers, the customers told that they have been duped into purchasing courses and exploited in some other way.
“Children have got some relief today from the psychological trauma they and their families were being put through by the company’s aggressive policies. We cannot regulate the functioning of a tech company, but the impact of their exploitative tactics was definitely under our purview,” said NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo.
BYJU’S has been accused of buying the phone numbers of children and their parents, and threatening them that their future will be ruined if they don’t buy their courses.
However, BYJU’S has refuted all the allegations and stated, “it did not instruct, direct, incentivise or encourage workers to seek consumers who are uninterested in or unable to pay for its products. Additionally, it said that the company has a robust refund policy for all products and services, and it does not directly provide loans but rather links parents with outside banks or financial organisations.”
NCPCR Chief Kanoongo said, “We came to know how Byju’s buying phone numbers of children & their parents, rigorously following them & threatening them that their future will be ruined. They’re targeting first-generation learners. We’ll initiate action & if need be will make report & write to govt.”
The Child Rights panel stated, “Under Section 14 of CPCR Act, 2005, the Commission has all the powers of a Civil Court trying a suit under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 and particular, in respect of the following matters- (a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; (b) discovery and production of any document; (c) receiving evidence on affidavits; (d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office; and (e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents.”
“The Commission is in observance that indulging into malpractices to lure the parents/children into entering loan-based agreements and then causing exploitation is against the welfare of children and in pursuance of the functions and powers under Section 13 and 14 of CPCR Act, 2005, the Commission requires you to appear in person before it along with the details of all the courses run by BYJU’S for children, the structure of these courses and the fee details, the number of students currently enrolled in each course, the refund policy of BYJU’S, the legal documents regarding the recognition of BYJU’S as a valid ed-tech company and all other relevant documents regarding the claims made in the news report at 1400 hours on 23.12.2022 to explain the discrepancies in relation to the said matter,” it added.
The statement said that if Raveendran fails to comply with the order without a lawful excuse, he will be subjected to the consequences of the non-attendance as provided in Rule 10 and Rule l2 of Order XVI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.