The Bombay High Court granted three colour-blind persons, aspiring bus conductors, interim relief on Monday after they filed a petition against the Maharashtra State Road Transport Department (MSRTC). The trio had challenged their rejections for the post of junior bus conductors after medical tests revealed they were colour-blind. The court ordered the MSRTC to preserve vacancies on behalf of the trio, which would be made available to them depending on the outcome of the case.
Kalidas Lokhande (42), Nitin Kashinath (32) and Suryakant Asware (37), all residents of Pune, had applied for the posts of junior conductors with the MSRTC. They had sent their applications following newspaper advertisements and cleared the written tests and interviews. During their medical tests, the District Civil Surgeon declared them unfit.
After the trio demanded to be re-examined by the board of Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, as per procedure, they were declared fit to be conductors. The high court intervened on their behalf and directed the MSRTC to reconsider their fitness via the board of referees of Sassoon Hospital in Pune.
The Sassoon board concluded that though they were fit under the Maharashtra Civil Service Rules, they were ‘unfit’ under the Bombay State Transport Employees Service Regulations. Interestingly, though the regulations state a ‘vision test’ is necessary for conductors, it does not disentitle a colour-blind person from the post of conductor. The trio then approached the high court through their lawyers Mihir Desai and Ushajee Peri.
“Mere colour-blindness does not make them ineligible to be conductors,” Peri informed the court. The petition also contended that the actions of the MSRTC were bad in law. While asking the state to file its reply on Monday, the division bench of justices A S Oka and A P Bhangale ordered that Lokhande, Kashinath and Asware would have a place with the MSRTC as conductors, depending on the outcome of the petition.