The Rajasthan High Court held that Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles cannot disqualify a candidate merely because he/she has a tattoo removal scar.

The case involved an appeal by the Central government against a single-judge's order directing the appointment of a candidate as a Constable (General Duty), despite the presence of tattoo removal scars on her right forearm and hand. The Central government argued that tattoo marks signify medical unfitness and that the single-judge should not have intervened in the decision of the Medical Board.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava and Justice Munnuri Laxman said, “In the absence of there being any ground of medical unfitness only on the ground of there being scar on the inner aspect of right forearm, disqualifying a candidate on the ground of there being by a scar of removed tattoo, will result in hostile discrimination as classification is not based on any rational integra and such discrimination would render it unconstitutional being violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.”

Deputy Solicitor General Mukesh Rajpurohit appeared for the Appellants and Advocate NR Budania appeared for the Respondent.

The Court emphasized that the existence of a scar from tattoo removal alone should not warrant disqualification. It highlighted, “Merely because the scar happens to be on the inner right forearm, that by itself cannot be treated to be a case of medical unfitness for the simple reason that existence of scar as such is not a ground for medical unfitness. In other words, the scar of removed tattoo and the scar for any other reason like injury etc. cannot be treated differently.”

Examining the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, the Court acknowledged that while tattoo marks are considered undesirable and disruptive to discipline, certain exceptions exist. The Court added, “Firstly, the tattoo depicting religious symbol or figure and the name are to be permitted. This is being allowed in the CRPF consistent with the practice which has been followed in the Indian Army. This fact has been clearly stated in the provisions itself. Thus there is no absolute prohibition in having tattoo mark.”

The Court emphasized that traditional tattoo sites, such as the inner aspect of the left forearm or the dorsum of the hands, are permissible, provided the size does not exceed 1/4 of the particular body part's area.

Furthermore, the Court cautioned against discriminatory practices, stating that disqualifying a candidate solely due to a scar from a removed tattoo would amount to unconstitutional discrimination, violating Articles 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution.

Cause Title: Union of India & Ors. v. Sanyogita, [2024:RJ-JD:20026-DB]

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