-Report by Himanshi Chauhan
In the present case of Vineet Kumar vs. UOI & Ors, a petition was filed by the petitioner seeking the quashing of an order whereby respondents have not protected his seniority, whereby his request for securing seniority was rejected and whereby DIG has rejected the petitioner’s request.
The petitioner had applied for the post of Sub Inspector in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He was selected in the recruitment process and was offered an appointment letter dated 30.10.2009. He joined the services on an even date. He was posted at Bhubaneshwar and after completion of his training; he joined his place of posting at 39 Bn. Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh.
The respondents had asked for the petitioner’s willingness to undergo a promotional course for promotion to the rank of Inspector. The petitioner had his willingness to join the pre-promotional course but he fell ill with high fever on 19.07.2013. He claims to have been diagnosed with “cerebral malaria” and was admitted to the MI room of the unit. Further, he was shifted to MMI Hospital, Raipur, where it was identified that he was suffering from “Klebsiella Pneumonia with Hepatitis-C”. He was discharged from the hospital on 02.08.2013. However, according to him, the respondents had advised him to medical rest for 20 days and so, he could not participate in the pre-promotional course.
➢ The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondents protected the petitioner’s chance for the course but not for his seniority. So, he submitted a representation to the Commandant (CRPF Chhattisgarh) for protection of his seniority which was forwarded to the DIGP, Hyderabad. In the letter, the Commandant mentioned that the petitioner’s case was genuine and he was willing to attend the course but was unable due to illness. The DIG further referred the case of the petitioner to the IG which was rejected stating that chances to attend promotional courses are to be protected. However, seniority is not required to be protected.
➢ The petitioner again sent a representation to DG, CRPF and thereafter, another representation to IGP-CRPF requesting to secure his seniority. It was contended that even Commandant-39 Bn CRPF also prayed to DIG for the protection of the seniority of the petitioner.
➢ The learned counsel further submitted that the respondents have erroneously rejected the petitioner’s representation without noticing the fact that he was posted in a malaria-affected area and his illness was precipitated by the same. So, due to his medical condition only, he could not attend the course and was denied promotion and seniority.
➢ The learned counsel next provides for certain cases wherein a candidate is unable to attend a course due to medical reasons, in such cases a residual power is vested with the DG-CRPF to approve the same.
➢ Further, the counsel submitted that respondents have themselves notified that the personnel wounded or injured while on active Government duty in India or abroad, will be eligible for promotions.
➢ The learned counsel further submitted that the juniors of the petitioner have been promoted to the rank of Inspector but he has not yet been promoted. He contends that his loss of seniority is due to the malaria fever which he got during his service as he was posted in an area which was infected with mosquitoes, unhygienic working conditions and water.
➢ Hence, the rejection of the petitioner’s representation deserves to be set aside by this court.
➢ The learned counsel for the respondent submitted that it is not disputed that the petitioner had fallen ill and was admitted to Unit Hospital and shifted to District Hospital, Narayanpur. Then he was referred to MMI Hospital, Raipur where he was diagnosed as a case of “Acute Febrile illness HCV Positive”. Thereafter, he was advised medical rest for 20 days due to hepatitis C.
➢ The learned counsel next submitted that it was intimated by the IGP that the petitioner has secured qualifying marks and directed his unit to attendIPC NO. 6 to be conducted at CTC Gwalior. Since the petitioner had been prescribed medical rest, he expressed his inability to attend the same.
➢ The learned counsel further submitted that the respondents have rightly rejected the petitioner’s different representations seeking seniority because as per medical documents, he was suffering from “Klebsiella Pneumonia with Hepatitis-C” whereas he seeks protection of chance and seniority on the ground that Narayanpur District of Chhattisgarh was declared a “malaria-prone area”. It has no relation with the disease actually suffered by him.
➢ The learned counsel next submitted that all the representations made by the petitioner are denied and it was stated that the petitioner was suffering from “Klebsiella Pneumonia with Hepatitis C”, which has nothing to do with malaria. There is no provision to consider personnel suffering from Hepatitis C to treat as attributable to the service conditions.
➢ The learned counsel also submitted that as per the Standing order if a candidate could not be sent for the course on administrative grounds, he will get another opportunity and his original seniority will be protected. Also, as per instructions contained in a letter dated 26.07.2022, the chance of personnel placed in LMC Shape-2 to Shape-4 to attend the promotional course is to be protected and their seniority is not required to be protected. In the present case, the petitioner was categorised as Shape-1 as per standing order and therefore, not eligible for any relaxation. The petitioner could not attend the course due to his illness and so, the IGP has rightly protected his case to attend the course but not seniority.
➢ Lastly, it was submitted that the impugned orders passed in respect of the petitioner are just and proper and need not be set aside by this court.
The Court opined that there is no dispute that the petitioner had tenderer his willingness to join the promotional course, however, unfortunately, he fell sick and remained hospitalised. Therefore, he could not participate in the said course. The respondents have not considered the case of the petitioner for promotion and seniority on the ground that he was not suffering from Malaria but Hepatitis C. But the Court observes that while making the above observations, the respondents have not considered the recommendations of the Commandant, 39 Bn written to the Dy. IG, Hyderabad, wherein it is admitted that the petitioner was deployed in a malaria-prone area like Narayanpur.
Thereby, the factum of the petitioner’s hospitalization and suffering from illness, attributable to his service conditions, is not disputed. Whether he was suffering from Malaria or Hepatitis-C is of no relevance. What is relevant is that the petitioner has suffered the agony of illness and treatment due to the conditions of his work.
Thus, the Court is of the opinion that the petitioner cannot be made to suffer mental agony to work below his juniors. Accordingly, orders passed by the respondents are hereby set aside. Directions were given to the respondents to pass necessary orders to re-fix the petitioner’s seniority in terms of merit for promotion to the rank of Inspector within six weeks.
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