The Supreme Court has held that courts cannot substitute the opinion of the medical board and decide that a person had developed "schizophrenia" on account of his service condition.
The apex court made the observation while upholding an appeal filed by the Union government challenging a decision of the Kerala High Court to grant pensionary benefits to family of A V Damodaran who died of schizophrenia in 1984 while working in the Indian Army as a "Sapper".
"The Medical Board had opined that the disability of A V Damodaran was not attributable to the military service nor has it been aggravated thereby and it is not connected with the service, as schizophrenia is a constitutional disease," a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundakam Sharma observed.
The Kerala high court had directed the government to provide all pensionary benefits to Damodaran despite the fact that the Medical Board had held that the death was not attributable to the nature of his work which disentitled his family to any benefits as he worked for only five years.
Setting aside the high court's judgement, the apex court observed, "the Medical Board is an expert body and its opinion is entitled to be given due weight, value and credence. In the instant case, the Medical Board has clearly opined that the disability of late Shri A V Damodaran was neither attributable nor aggravated by the military service."