Medical Degree Certificate not Marketable Commodity, cannot be withheld for unfulfilled bond terms: HC
Chennai: Providing relief to around 25 PG doctors, whose original certificates had been retained by the medical colleges on the ground that they had not completed their bond terms, the Madras High Court bench has recently clarified that unfulfilled bond conditions cannot be the sole ground for withholding original education certificates of students.Therefore, issuing a direction to the...
Chennai: Providing relief to around 25 PG doctors, whose original certificates had been retained by the medical colleges on the ground that they had not completed their bond terms, the Madras High Court bench has recently clarified that unfulfilled bond conditions cannot be the sole ground for withholding original education certificates of students.
Therefore, issuing a direction to the medical colleges and the State Directorate of Medical Education to return back the documents, the bench comprising of Justice GR Swaminathan noted, "It is well settled that an Educational certificate is not a marketable commodity, therefore, there cannot be exercise of any lien in terms of Section 171 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. It has been held in catena of cases that management cannot retain the certificates of the students."
The HC bench was considering a petition by doctors, who obtained their PG medical degrees in the academic year 2018-2021. At the time of admission, they had executed bonds and had undertaken to serve the Government Hospitals for two years. After successful completion of their PG courses in May 2021, they were called upon for COVID-19 duties. For this, they worked on temporary and contractual basis for 10 months, after which they had been relieved and they were not issued with any fresh posting orders.
Following this, the petitioner doctors wrote to their respective medical colleges and the State Government authorities to demanding return of their original certificates collected by the respective colleges at the time of admission. However, the authorities have taken a stand that since the petitioner doctors have not served for a full period of two years as per the bond terms and conditions, the original certificates could not be returned. Thereafter the petitioner doctors approached the High Court and filed the petition.
On the other hand, the Government pleader contested the prayers and submitted that the petitioner doctors were squarely bound by the terms of the undertaking which they had voluntarily given with open eyes at the time of admission and now they cannot be allowed to go back on their undertaking.
Taking note of the submissions, the bench referred to the relief granted to the similarly placed candidates and noted,
"Though the submission made by the learned Special Government Pleader is quite attractive, I must note that the similarly placed candidates had already been granted relief. They filed in W.P.No.28526 of 2021 seeking return of their certificates and the same was disposed of with certain directions. Aggrieved by the same, they filed W.A.No.1182 of 2022 before the Hon'ble First Bench. During the pendency of the writ appeal, the Director of Medical Education, Kilpauk, Chennai issued an order dated 21.04.2022, instructing the respective Deans of the Government Medical Colleges to return the original certificates to the appellants. In view of the same, the writ appeal was disposed of on 27.04.2022 with a direction to the respective Deans of the Government Medical Colleges to return the original certificates to the appellants at the earliest, in any case, not later than 15 days from the date of production of a certified copy of the judgment. In other words, even though they did not fulfill the terms and conditions of the bond, they were able to get back their certificates."
Responding to this, the counsel for the Government argued that the said order cannot be cited as a precedent as he highlighted the fact that while in the earlier case, the Director has passed an order dated 21.04.2022, in the present case, no such communication had been issued.
While the HC bench sustained the said stand of the Government pleader, it opined that the petitioner doctors are entitled to relief for two reasons-
"a) It is well settled that an Educational certificate is not a marketable commodity, therefore, there cannot be exercise of any lien in terms of Section 171 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. It has been held in catena of cases that management cannot retain the certificates of the students.
b) The appellants in W.A.No.1182 of 2022 were identical placed. They were classmates of the writ petitioners herein. Therefore, a different yard stick cannot be adopted in the present case. That shall be a gross violation. A Statutory Authority will have to treat similarly placed persons in the same manner. Failure to do so would be an infraction of Article 14 of the Constitution of India."
Therefore, the bench directed the Government and the colleges to return back the certificates and mentioned in the order, "For the aforesaid two reasons, this writ petition is allowed. The respective respondents are directed to return the original certificates to the writ petitioners within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order."
To read the order, click on the link below.
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.