Toppers of civil service exams to end advertisement deals with their coaching centres after assuming office
All successful candidates, including toppers of UPSC exams, will have to terminate their contracts with coaching institutes after signing the joining letter.
In a big move, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has barred candidates passing the civil service examinations from enjoying round-the-year advertising revenue from institutes that coach them and use these ads to attract future students.
According to an exclusive report by the Mint, all successful candidates, including toppers of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations will have to terminate their contracts with coaching institutes after signing the joining letter following the declaration of results. In this regard, the CCPA sent a letter to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the cadre-controlling authority of all officers selected through various competitive exams conducted by UPSC.
Notably, the decision follows an inquiry by the CCPA to check how coaching institutes use photos of IAS toppers in ads, which falls under the ‘misleading advertisement’ and ‘unfair trade practices’ clauses of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The CCPA report, accessed by the Mint, stated that the coaching centers in question even resorted to misleading and exaggerated claims to lure aspirants. Furthermore, it highlighted that important information, such as the course chosen by successful candidates, is deliberately concealed from consumers in advertisements.
The CCPA suggested that DoPT enforce the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, for all candidates who continue to feature in ads for coaching classes and as their brand ambassadors annually.
As per the conduct rules, government servants are prohibited from engaging directly or indirectly in any trade or business or undertaking any employment.
Notices sent to coaching institutes
The CCPA has issued notices to 20 IAS coaching institutes. These also include Vajirao & Reddy Institute, Sriram’s IAS, and Drishti IAS, for allegedly misleading consumers by concealing important information.
A case in point, the Vajirao & Reddy Institute claimed that 617 students from their center cleared the UPSC exams in 2022. This came to light when the institute, while replying to the CCPA, said all students were part of the interview guidance programme and had not enrolled in expensive foundation courses.
It may be mentioned here that the coaching industry in India is worth ₹58,088 crore, of which civil-services-exam coaching contributes ₹3,000 crore, as stated in the CCPA report.