Calcutta High Court addresses the issue of unemployment for an employee who was to be benefited through the Land Losers Scheme of Coal India Limited due to the reason of colour blindness

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The petitioner (Pradip Kumar Maji) of this case (Pradip Kumar Maji v. Coal India Limited and others) belongs to that family which lost close to 2.03 acres of land, due to the acquisition made by the Coal India Limited in the district of Burdwan.

Coal India Limited had started a compensation scheme to the land losers, known as the employment at Eastern Coalfields Limited. Pradip Kumar was the member nominated from his family to attain this benefit. The interview procedure was duly conducted and Pradip Kumar’s appointment was duly approved.

Since the test also required a medical test to be conducted, that was carried out, and it was shown that he has colour blindness. The petitioner requested for re-medical examination by the Apex Medical Board, however, the respondent did not reply to the request.

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Following this, there were successive appeals made to different authorities for a job opportunity. On 24th May 2017, the Assistant Manager, wrote to the general manager to accommodate Pradip Kumar in the Sodepur area, considering he was entitled to benefits in the land losers scheme. However, this was not followed up.

Argument by the counsel for the petitioners

Pradip Kumar’s counsel raised this question to the court, the petition on behalf of Pradip Kumar was raised on the grounds of violation article 14, 16 and 21, and a writ of mandamus was requested

  • As to whether colour blindness is a reason for disqualification, he also cited the example of the Western Coalfields Limited and mentioned those colour blind persons were appointed in Mahanadi Coalfields Limited under the Group–C category, and the same was given in the South-Eastern Coalfields Limited, hence made a point that it was no reason for discrimination.
  • The Counsel also mentioned that in the case of the petitioner, the Minimum Physical Standards for all Classes of Employees Directly Connected with Coal Mining and Mining Trainees, which apply to the position that Pradip, the petitioner had applied, does not debar a colour blind person in any manner. The same argument was substantiated with clause 13 of the said rules, which explicitly barred people from night blindness from applying.
  • It was further pointed out that the Managing Director can relax one of the conditions in favour of any candidates on special grounds.
  • Pradip Kumar’s Counsel mentioned that the Medical Council of India has agreed to the recommendation of the Supreme Court to lift the bar on people with the colour vision deficiency from joining the medical stream. The same was substantiated with the list given in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, 21 where the disabilities list does not include colour blindness hence rejecting the petitioner’s case on these grounds amounted to discrimination.

Arguments by the respondents

The Counsel of Coal India Limited put forth the following points

  • The first point mentioned was an explanation of the working conditions in the mines, and then it was pointed out that since it largely involves underground job it is unsafe for the worker to be medically unfit.
  • Secondly, the point emphasised on was an employee working in the mines should have good vision and cannot be colour blind. Various modern safety devices are employed in the underground for safety measures and hence its necessary for the miner to recognise the different colours.

The Court’s Decision

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Looking into the arguments given by the counsel, the first question that was posed to the respondents in this case the company coal India limited, was to show proof as to how the colour blindness would affect his employment. After receiving the answer to the question raised, the next question that was brought up was can the employee be offered a job above the surface, but that was not possible due to the lack of opportunity.

After due consideration of the arguments presented by both the sides, the court considered the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Nand Kumar Narayanrao Ghodmare v. the State of Maharashtra the court directed the respondents to consider the case of the petitioner for appointment to any post when he qualifies the reliability criteria and vision deficiency will not be a bar. The appointment to be made within 30 days of communicating the order.


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