New Delhi: Concerned over lack of fitness tests of drivers in the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) from induction till the age of 55 years, the Delhi High Court has directed the authority to lay down norms for regular medical examination as passenger safety depended on their fitness. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Pratibha Rani directed the DTC to ensure that its drivers undergo medical check-ups annually or bi-annually or as appropriate.
In case they are found physically unfit to discharge their duties, they should be shifted to some other post. The direction was issued by the court as it was of the view that a DTC driver was responsible for the safety of passengers travelling on his bus as well as those on the road, and currently, no procedure had been laid down to test his fitness on a regular basis.
It noted that presently, a medical examination of drivers is undertaken only when they attain the age of 55 years and if they clear it, their services are extended on a year-to-year basis.
The observations and direction by the bench came as it upheld the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) ordering reinstatement of DTC driver Surendra Pal who retired from service in July 2013 at the age of 55 years for having a deformed little finger in his right hand.The high court said that since Pal would superannuate only on July 31, 2018, he should report for duty to the Regional Manager, DTC (HQ).
The DTC had retired him from service on the ground that the deformity, a workplace injury which had occurred in 2007, rendered him unfit to drive a bus.The transport corporation had arrived at the decision after Pal underwent the mandatory medical examination when he turned 55 years old in 2013.
Advocate Anuj Aggarwal, appearing for the driver, had contended that Pal was driving with the deformed finger from 2007 till 2013 without a single accident or complaint against him. Besides, a specialist in AIIMS had certified him fit for driving a six-wheeler vehicle, like a bus, the lawyer had told the court.
In its defence, DTC said that two medical boards set up by it had held him unfit for service and as he drove a bus ferrying people, it would put their lives at risk if he was allowed to continue.The bench, however, said that DTC’s stand “would have cut ice” had it withdrawn Pal from the post immediately after conducting his medical examination on June 6, 2013. “However, vide memo dated June 18, 2013, the DTC informed the respondent that he would be retiring from service with effect from July 31, 2013, on attaining the age of 55 years without withdrawing him from duty.”
Since the respondent had suffered a deformity while on duty, it cannot be urged by the DTC that the management was unaware of the said deformity for seven long years i.e. with effect from 2007, when in all this duration, he had continued discharging his duties as a driver and continued driving six wheeler vehicles and was not found deficient in any manner,” the court said while upholding CAT’s November 8, 2016.