In a recent decision delivered by the Madras High Court, Private Engineering Colleges have been given the right to keep in their custody, the original education certificates of their staff.
This decision arose from the petition filed by the All India Private Educational institution Association, wherein the Petitioner challenged the circular that was issued by Anna University on the 4th of December, 2018.
In the said circular, Anna university had instructed all its affiliate colleges to return the certificates of its teaching and non-teaching staff back to the staff immediately after the verification exercise is completed.
This instruction was made as means of avoiding the occurrence of the situation witnessed by a private engineering College in Chennai, where a staff of the said college had committed suicide because the college had refused to return the victim’s original college certificate to him to enable him take up a more lucrative career.
At the hearing of the Petition, the Private Colleges argued that they needed to keep in their custody, the original certificates of their staff, to prevent the staff from quitting their job suddenly.
The Court accepted the College Managements’ arguments, and in its judgments stated that the colleges are entitled to keep in their custody, the certificates of staff who are in the college service. The Court instructed that Anna University should issue a fresh circular in this regard.
However, the Court ordered that the colleges should return the original certificates to only those staff who wanted to quit.
Invariably, the court’s decision gives the colleges the right to retain a staff’s vital documents throughout the period the staff is in the college’s service.
Even though the Court has tried to draw a line by granting colleges the right to keep in their custody the original certificates of their staff who are in their service, excluding those who want to quit, many teachers are not happy with the Court’s decision.
Many of the college staff have stated that these gives the colleges the opportunity to withhold a staff’s certificate as a leverage against staff who want to seek better prospects. Some have voiced out that some of these colleges even demand ransoms before releasing a staff’s certificate where the staff intends to switch jobs.
There is also the fear that this judgment would pave way for many colleges to impose modern-day enslavement on their staff.