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Fitness For Recruitment In Armed Forces| Opinion Of Medical Board Prevails Over Pvt/ Govt Doctors; No Interference U/A 226 Unless Malafide: Delhi HC

Suhavi Arya
2 March 2022 7:00 AM GMT
Fitness For Recruitment In Armed Forces| Opinion Of Medical Board Prevails Over Pvt/ Govt Doctors; No Interference U/A 226 Unless Malafide: Delhi HC
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The Delhi High Court has held that for selection to armed forces, the candidates must be fully fit and no benefit of doubt in this regard can be given to them.It further held that the medical opinion of doctors of the Forces, who are well aware of the demands of duties and the physical standards required to discharge the same, cannot be discarded and would, in fact, prevail over the...

The Delhi High Court has held that for selection to armed forces, the candidates must be fully fit and no benefit of doubt in this regard can be given to them.

It further held that the medical opinion of doctors of the Forces, who are well aware of the demands of duties and the physical standards required to discharge the same, cannot be discarded and would, in fact, prevail over the report of private or even other government doctors.
The Court further clarified that Medical Manuals for entry to the Forces cannot be said to be laying down all the complex ailments/grounds that would make a candidate unfit for appointment to Armed Forces. The recruiting medical officer may use his clinical acumen, to the best of his knowledge and keeping in view the best interests of the Forces.
It added that the Court, in exercise of its power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, cannot interfere with the findings of the Medical Board, especially in the absence of any allegation of mala fide or arbitrariness by the doctors.
The observations were made by a division bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla, in various cases relating to fitness of candidates for recruitment in the Armed Forces.

In the case of Abhigyan Singh v Union of India, WP ( C ) 5083/2021, the petitioner had challenged the decision of Medical Board which declared him medically unfit due to cardiovascular abnormality.

When the doctor who had examined the petitioner appeared before the Court, he explained that mere normal report of echocardiogram is not sufficient to declare the candidate medically fit, when the ECG test itself is showing the candidate to be suffering from 'Right Bundle Branch Block'.

In view of this submission, the Court dismissed the petition and held,

"It must be remembered that in selection to armed forces, the candidate must be fully fit and no benefit of doubt in this regard can be given to the candidate. This Court is of the opinion that the doctors of the Forces are the best judge in ascertaining whether a candidate ought to be enrolled in the services or not, owing to the strenuous and hostile terrain and environment where personnel would have to serve. Any error in judgment, particularly with respect to medical ailments as serious as the one in the present case, would not only endanger the life of the petitioner but also those of other officers involved in possible operations."

In the case of Komal Rastogi v. Directorate General Central Reserve Police Force, WP (C ) 6589/2021, the petitioner was declared medically unfit as she suffered from 'Anaemia and bilateral ptosis'.

After being certified by a District Hospital to have recovered from the ailment, the petitioner filed an appeal before the Review Medical Board, which again declared her medically unfit for 'bilateral ptosis'. Aggrieved, she moved the High Court.

The Respondent contend that the report of District Hospital is not binding on the RME and in any case, cannot override the report of the RME, which conducts the medical examination keeping in view the requirements of the Armed Forces.

Agreeing, the Court refused to interfere in the matter. It said,

"Standard of physical fitness for the Armed Forces and the Police Forces is more stringent than that for the civilian employment...it is the doctors of the Forces, who are well aware of the demands of duties and the physical standards required to discharge the same. Their report cannot be discarded and would, in fact, prevail over the report of private or even other government doctors."

In Gaurav Dalal v. Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs & Anr., WP (C ) 6595/2021, the petitioner was declared medically unfit for the appointment of a Constable, on the ground of 'undescended testis'. The petitioner alleged that disqualification on this ground is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14, 19 (1)(g) and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that this was a case of 'no left testis' and not 'undescended testis', as the petitioner's left testis was not visualized in the examination report of PGI, Chandigarh. He submitted that Clauses 5(p), 6(28) and Clause 3(e) of Part XIII of 'Guidelines for Recruitment Medical Examination in Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles: Revised Guidelines as on May 2015' prescribe only "undescended testis" as a disqualification for appointment to CAPFs and a case of "no testis" is not a disqualification.

Rejecting this argument, the Court held, "The Guidelines cannot be said to be laying down all the complex ailments/grounds that would make a candidate unfit for appointment to Armed Forces."

Also Read: 'Medical Manual Not Sole Repository Of All Ailments': Delhi High Court Denies Relief To JAG Candidate Declared Unfit Due To High Haemoglobin

It stated that the Guidelines are not the sole repository of all ailments and the recruiting medical officer needs to use his clinical acumen, to the best of his knowledge and keeping in view the best interests of the Forces.

In the case of Adhir Kumar Verma v. Central Reserve Police Force & Ors., WP ( C ) 14926/2021, the petitioner, a Sub-Inspector aspirant, was declared unfit for 'Multiple keloid in Central area of chest and single keloid right scapular area'. This led to the petitioner filing the present petition.

While praying for an independent board of doctors to examine the petitioner, the Counsel for the petitioner argued that mere presence of keloids is not a disqualification in accordance with the 'Uniform Guidelines for Recruitment Medical Examination in CAPFs and Assam Rifles: Revised Guidelines as on May 2015'. Nor does keloid formation on the petitioner interfere with the proper wearing of combative equipment. Additionally, the petitioner also submitted that in earlier medical examinations of the petitioner he was found to be medically fit for appointment.

Keeping in mind that doctors are best judge of medical fitness or unfitness of a candidate, the bench stated that since there is no mala fide alleged against the doctors, benefit of doubt on medical fitness cannot be given to the candidate.

"The Court, in exercise of its power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, cannot interfere with such findings of the RMB in the absence of any allegation of mala fide or arbitrariness by the doctors," it held.


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