Can college refuse to return original documents until full payment of fees?


Unscrupulous private schools harassing students to extract money by messing with their lives appears to be the rule rather than the exception these days. Fee refunds and original documentation are explicitly defined by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which supervise technical education in the nation.

Students can write to the UGC or the AICTE describing the matter if institutions refuse to return the original certificates. Last year, the Karnataka High Court decided that institutions cannot hold students “to ransom” by refusing to release their diplomas and grade cards. The court ordered Oxford College of Engineering in Bengaluru to restore the testimonies of a student who had dropped out of her engineering programme.

While hearing a lawsuit against private self-financing schools, the Kerala High Court ruled that colleges cannot withhold student diplomas pending payment of fees, stating that such a practise is unlawful and contrary to public policy. When a college withheld a student’s certificates in 2013, the Madras High Court issued a similar ruling, stating, “Those certificates are not like fixed deposit receipts on which banks claim a general lien in terms of Section 171 of the Contract Act,” and ordering the college to return them immediately.

Reference: UGC Notification on Refund of Fees and Non-retention of Original Certificates, October 2018 – – AHG155 – 202100581 – 77 – 73 – 20210012520210039256


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