7 Oct 2020 2:59 AM GMT
The Himachal Pradesh High court on Tuesday (06th October) took a stern view of the issue of Private Educational Institutions retaining the original certificates and other documents of its students so as to ensure that students do not migrate to any other college or for that matter leave the college.Having failed to secure and get back their original documents and certificates, the petitioners...
The Himachal Pradesh High court on Tuesday (06th October) took a stern view of the issue of Private Educational Institutions retaining the original certificates and other documents of its students so as to ensure that students do not migrate to any other college or for that matter leave the college.
Having failed to secure and get back their original documents and certificates, the petitioners in the present case filed the instant petition for the grant of following substantive relief(s):-
i. That respondent No. 2 to 5 may be directed to return the original documents of the petitioners immediately without any further delay.
ii. Respondents No. 2 to 5 or any of these respondents in whose illegal custody the original documents of petitioners are there, may kindly be directed to pay to each of the petitioner a sum of Rupees Five Lacs as compensation. The respondents may further be directed to produce the records and to pay costs.
The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua noted that the petitioners and similarly situated students have been compelled to undergo a lot of mental trauma and indulge in a legal battle to set right their upset careers.
The petitioners took admission in three years course in GNM i.e. General Nursing & Midwifery Diploma in the Himalayan School of Nursing, being run by the Himalayan Group of Professional Institutions, under the aegis of Maa Saraswati Education Trust, registered in the State of Haryana.
At the time of taking admission in the college, the petitioners were asked to hand over their original educational certificates to the college on the pretext that those documents were required for the admission purpose and would be given back as and when required by the petitioners.
However, even after appearing in the final examination of the third year in 2019, the petitioners could not get their original documents back.
When they approached Chairman of respondent No. 3, they were informed that the original documents as retained by college, have now been taken by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Petitioners then approached the High Court, and the Respondents No. 3 to 5, in their reply submitted that the documents which were being sought by the petitioners are not in the custody of the college, as those were seized by the CBI during the verification of allegations in FIR registered against the institutions, who had been receiving scholarship money for SC and ST students
Taking into consideration, the response of the college authority(ies) i.e. respondents No. 3 to 5, the Court issued notice and directed the CBI to file its response.
CBI's response filed before the Court
CBI accepted that during the search proceedings at Himalayan Group of Professional Institutions, Kala Amb, Tehsil Nahan, District Sirmaur, H.P., certain files were seized.
The Agency further submitted that the respondents-college had retained the original documents of the students who had taken admission in the above mentioned institutions with an ulterior motive.
However, the CBI, in its reply, stated that it had no objection in case the original documents are returned back to the students and photocopies thereof retained by the CBI.
Court's Observations and Decision
The Court expressed its anguish at the approach of the College and stated,
"What happens when an educator gets down to hand twisting and blackmailing by retaining the original certificates and other documents of its students so as to ensure that their wings are clipped and they do not migrate to any other college or for that matter leave the college."
As regards the second prayer, the Court observed that it was duly established on record that on account of the illegal action of the college management, the petitioners and other similarly situated students were put to untold misery and tension exposing their careers to unpredictable uncertainty.
The Court relied on the ruling of the Apex Court in the case of Maharishi Dayanand University vs. M.L.R. Saraswati College Education, (2000) 7 SCC 746, wherein it was observed that,
"It is time that the courts evolve a mechanism for awarding damages to the students whose careers are seriously jeopardised by unscrupulous management of colleges/schools which indulge in violation of all rules. This is not the occasion to go deep into that aspect but one day it has to be done." (emphasis supplied)
Therefore, taking into consideration the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court felt that the petitioners were required to be compensated for the legal expenses, at least, which have been incurred by them in prosecuting the litigation before this Court.
The Court, accordingly, while allowing relief/prayer No. 2, directed the respondents-college to pay a sum of Rs. 50,000/- each to the petitioners towards litigation expenses.
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