The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up a private medical college for compelling a post-graduate student to pay five lakhs in lieu of compulsory service after completing her course. A Single Judge Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2020 had held that the appellant college refusing to release the original documents and the certificate of the petitioner till she deposited the bond money was “unsustainable in law”. Therefore, the medical college was directed to refund the amount, along with interest, within a period of 30 days. The decision of the writ court was upheld in appeal by a Division Bench of the High Court. Against this decision, the private medical college preferred an appeal before the apex court, with a Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli presiding over it.

Before the counsel for the medical college could make any submission, Chief Justice Chandrachud exclaimed, “I was shocked. How can you ask for a bond? You are a private institution. Only the government can ask for a bond because they subsidize medical education, whereas a private medical college will charge crores of rupees. Therefore, they can say that after you complete your education, you can serve out a bond.”

Chief Justice Chandrachud asked, “Show us the power?” “If you do not have the power, then you have to return the money,” he added. Expressing his disbelief, he said, “If private medical educational institutions now start asking for bonds that you must serve us in our college, otherwise, you will be subject to a payment of five lakhs…”

In In August 2019, the Supreme Court had rejected a challenge against the imposition of compulsory bonds to be executed for admission to post-graduate medical courses and super specialty courses. A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, while dismissing the challenge, noted that certain state governments had rigid conditions in the compulsory bonds and suggested the promulgation of a uniform policy on the compulsory service to be rendered by doctors trained in government institutions which would be applicable across states.

Earlier this year, in August, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea by MBBS students seeking the quashing of the compulsory bond conditions in undergraduate medical course and directed the petitioners to approach the Bombay High Court. Notably, the Union Health Ministry is creating guidelines to do away with the bond policy for doctors that requires them to work for a specified period in a state-run hospital after their graduation and post graduation course, Mint has reported.

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