Student certificates are individually owned; no institution can keep it: HC

In a landmark judgment, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana ruled that a student’s certificates are his or her individual property and no other institution/individual can keep them without legal permission.

“Whether, something is owed by a student or a student is required to do something legally stipulated, in the event of refusal, recourse may be had to the means provided by law to ensure compliance. Adopting the method of retaining original certificates/documents is unfair to say the least,” High Court Seat Sudhir Mittal observed.

The court was hearing a May 2022 plea from Monika, who had approached the high court against Pt BD Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak.

She was admitted to the bachelor’s degree in dental sciences and she filed 52,090 with its original certificates. However, she did not register for the course and demanded a refund of the amount deposited and the return of her certificates. The request was not accepted by the institute.

She passed the National Eligibility Test for undergraduate medical courses in 2020 and after counseling was granted a place in February 2022 in the BDS course. The initial filing and original certificates were filed by her on February 7, 2022. However, she wrote a letter on March 14, 2022, requesting the cancellation of admission. In May, she represented the university for the return of filed charges and original documents. But the university disagreed. Following this, she went to the high court arguing that the documents are her property and cannot be kept by the university.

In the high court, the university had argued that the last date for council was April 28, 2022, and it was admitted as it was declared the winner in the first round. The university had referred to the Government of Haryana procedure for admission to MBBS/BDS courses that each student must execute a deposit of 10 lakh backed by two sureties that he/she would not leave the course halfway. In case the student leaves the course halfway, an amount of 10 lakh would be salvageable, the university had argued, adding that the Indian Government’s Directorate General of Health Sciences in February 2022 advised colleges not to accept offline resignation applications as such vacancies do not cannot be included in other counseling cycles. The petitioner did not apply online and therefore her application had no right to be granted, it was stated. “Original certificates cannot be returned unless and until the deposit is paid because the petitioner left the course halfway,” the university had said.

The tribunal observed that no admission requirement was brought to the notice of the tribunal authorizing the university to keep the original documents as security for the payment of the sums allegedly due. “…Thus, retaining the original documents as security is not durable in law,” the bench said, adding that the last date for consultation was April 28 and that it had hinted at the surrender of the headquarters on March 14.

“Therefore, it is doubtful whether the petitioner can be said to have left the course halfway,” the bench said, further observing that a student’s certificates are his or her individual property and that no other institution/nobody can keep them without legally. authority. The court has now ordered that his original certificates be returned within 10 days.


    Surender Sharma is a senior correspondent in Chandigarh. It covers the high court of Punjab and Haryana.
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