The Delhi High Court has stated that a private or other government doctor’s opinion which is contrary to that of the doctors of Armed or Police Forces cannot be accepted to determine the medical fitness of a police force aspirant. (Priyanka vs UOI)
Relying on a series of similar judgments, a Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon said,
“..once no mala fides are attributed and the doctors of the Forces who are well aware of the demands of duties of the Forces in the terrain in which the recruited personnel are required to work, have formed an opinion that a candidate is not medically fit for recruitment, opinion of private or other government doctors to the contrary cannot be accepted inasmuch as the recruited personnel are required to work for the Forces and not for the private doctors or the government hospitals and which medical professionals are unaware of the demands of the duties in the Forces.”
The court was dealing with a petition preferred by an aspirant (petitioner) to the post of Constable (G.D.) in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).
The petitioner was declared medically unfit at the stage of medical examination on the ground that she was “Carrying Angle > 20° Both Side”.
Before filing the administrative appeal, the petitioner approached a specialist orthopaedic surgeon in the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Government of Karnataka.
The doctor declared the petitioner fit, observing that “there is a bit Cubitus Valgus carrying angle < 20° (18°)”.
However, the Review Medical Board again declared the petitioner unfit for the same reason.
The petitioner questioned the conclusion of the Review Medical Board by submitting an application to the competent authority in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). She contended that there was no specialist in the Review Medical Board and that she had been wrongly declared unfit.
A writ petition was also preferred before the High Court, contending that as per the “Uniform Guidelines for Medical Examination Test of Combined Recruitment of CT/GD in CAPFs/ARs”, one subject specialist had to be included in the Review Medical Board.
To further strengthen her case, the petitioner got herself examined at Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore and Columbia Asia, Bangalore.
While one hospital concluded that the carrying angle was: “right elbow 18° left elbow 19°”, the other said that there was “mild cubital valgus seen bilaterally– Right: 18 and Left 19”, i.e., less than 20°, thus declaring her fit.
The Court noted that the petitioner had “no convincing answer” with respect to her source of the information that the Review Medical Board had no specialist.
The Court further observed that the standard of physical fitness for the Armed Forces and the Police Forces was more stringent than for civilian employment.
It added that a contrary opinion of private or other government doctors could not be accepted as the recruited personnel are required to work for the Forces and private doctors or the government hospitals are unaware of the demands of the duties.
Noting that in the present case, even the petitioner’s specialists had also found that she suffered from ‘cubital valgus’, the Court said,
“What may seem as a minor difference in the assessment of the Civil doctors in comparison to the assessment of the Medical Boards, may blow up into a serious health condition during the course of service with the CAPFs. It is not in the interest of either the Police Forces or candidates that their medical problems are brushed aside only on the plea that it was a question of employment. The general health of candidates would be permanently impacted due to the stress, both physical and mental, on account of these medical shortcomings.”
The Court further added that the government would also be saddled with a Police Force where personnel would seek “soft postings” because of their health conditions and low medical category.
“This would lead to dissatisfaction amongst the personnel in the Forces as some people, who ought not to have been taken into the Forces, would always benefit, whereas the others would be mostly faced with hard postings and duties,” it said.
The Court held that there was no merit in the present case as the petitioner had availed of all opportunities to get a second opinion during the Appeal/Review Medical Board.
Advocate A K Trivedi appeared for the petitioner.
Senior standing counsel TP Singh appeared for Centre.