“The Centre was free to take any steps to recover an amount for the violation of the bond signed by the students but it could not keep the original degrees submitted by them at the time of admission.”- Delhi HC
New Delhi: Holding that the government has no right to hold the degrees of doctors on account of the fact that they have not completed the compulsory bond service, the Delhi High Court in a recent case directed the center to return back the degrees of two medical practitioners who had procured admissions in the super-specialization course.
The order came in response to a petition filed by two doctors who claimed that they could not enroll in the Super Speciality Course because their original degrees were retained by AFMC. The petitioners also alleged they were forced to execute a surety bond to serve as SSC officers.
The case is that of two doctors who took admission in postgraduate courses (M.S. (General Surgery)) at army’s R&R Hospital in 2014 and they also executed a surety bond to serve as SSC officers for 5 years and pay Rs 25 lakh if they in the case they defaulted. While joining the course the doctors submitted their original MBBS degrees with the Academic Cell. After completing their PG course and clearing the entrance exam for Super Speciality Course through NEET ( McH courses), they decided to discontinue from Armed Forces Medical Services. However, despite repeated requests, they did not get their documents back from the authorities
In response the counsel for the government submitted that the doctors had admittedly violated the terms of the surety bond, whereby they had agreed to serve the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 as SSC Officers for a period of five years, they cannot now seek release of the original documents without paying the requisite bond amount of Rs.25,00,000/-. Further while undergoing the said course, the doctors have been paid a sum of Rs.27,00,000/- by way of stipend and, therefore, contends that there is no justification on their part to demand the release of their original documents without paying the agreed sum of Rs.25,00,000/-, especially when they have received a sum of Rs.27,00,000/- each from the hospital, themselves by way of stipend.
While refuting the submissions of the doctors, that they had been coerced into executing the said surety bond, the counsel further submitted that the petitioners had willingly taken admission in the institutes run by the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 as they are very prestigious medical institutions
After going through all the submissions Justice Rekha Palli held that,
“The Centre was free to take any steps to recover an amount for the violation of the bond signed by the students but it could not keep the original degrees submitted by them at the time of admission.”
She added that the decision of ‘retaining the documents’ was arbitrary and illegal.
“….in my considered opinion, Centre and Armed Forces Medical Services cannot, by way of ransom, retain the said documents. Even though they may be free to initiate steps to recover the said amount in accordance with law, the action to retain the said documents in the absence of any condition in the bond is wholly arbitrary, illegal,”
The court then directed the Centre and AFMC to immediately release the original documents of the petitioners. However, it added that they would be at liberty to take appropriate steps in accordance with law to recover the aforesaid amount with interest. The court also adviced the government and AFMC to amend their agreements to incorporate, in case they so desire, the appropriate condition for retaining of the said documents.