Published: 17th October 2020
Students, you better hold on: Why colleges withholding degree certificates portray a grim picture
John B Monteiro, in his latest column, investigates a brand new judgement that will prevent educational institutions from withholding students’ certificates. Read on to find out more about it...
A BMW can’t take you as far as a diploma
— Joyce Meyer (b 1943), American charismatic Christian author and speaker
There was a time, for instance in 1960, when I received my MA degree in the convocation hall of Bombay University. About 400 graduating students opted to receive the degrees in person.
The Registrar would intone, for instance, “John Monteiro and 60 others are being conferred the degree of Master of Arts and I request the dons on the dais to grant this grace”. The dignitaries would stand up and say: “This grace is granted” whereupon a token degree was handed over to the eligible present. This ritual lasted over an hour at the end of which the tired dons would hardly rise from their seats and intone: “Disgrace is granted”.
Students seeking admissions for higher studies or jobs had to submit the original degrees. And in many cases, these degrees were held hostages pending the settlement of all dues and procedures. Now, the Odisha High Court has offered relief in such cases.
Many parents have faced this problem from schools and institutions which refuse to return original documents submitted at the time of admission if their wards wanted to withdraw after getting entry into a better school. The High Court of Odisha has warned institutions against retention of original certificates.
A student sought issuance of the necessary certificates for a PG course which he completed from an institution in May. But riled by the student joining another private medical college as a senior resident, the institution played truant and made many excuses, including non-payment of certain fees and outstanding dues, to refuse return of the certificates and issue of the PG certificate.
“The institution is duty bound to release the original certificates entrusted at the time of admission, unless there is specific undertaking; or bond of compulsory employment at the said institute; or any other rule or regulation which permits them to retain the same. In the case at hand, there is no such provision which has been brought to our notice either in the prospectus issued by the Commissioner of Entrance Examination, the college or in any of the notifications issued with respect to the admission by the said college which enables it to withhold such certificates,” said a bench of Justice S Panda and Justice S K Panigrahi. The court further said: “The practice of withholding original certificates of the students and not returning them is completely illegal as the certificates are the most valuable property of the students.”
“Withholding of the hard-earned certificates of students, at the whims and fancies of colleges, do not portray a good picture of the education system in the country,” it said, directing the institution to return the certificates within a week.