Madras HC allows medical graduates to become Food Safety Officer

The Madras High Court recently held that a “Degree In Medicine” specified as a qualification for appointment to the post of Food Safety Officer should be understood expansively, and would include the Siddha and BDS systems of medicine as well. This decision has been widely celebrated by proponents of traditional medicine, who argue that this move will help in preserving and promote ancient healing practices that are unique to India.

The Importance of the Siddha System of Medicine

Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai bench emphasized the importance of the Siddha system of medicine and noted that the system was ancient and unique to Tamil Nadu. Earlier, every temple in Tamil Nadu would have a functioning Siddha dispensary attached to it. During the Covid crisis, the Government has promoted Siddha medicine, and the role played by the Siddha doctors cannot be ignored. Disqualifying a Siddha degree holder in the selection process tantamounts to branding the Siddha system as unmodern.

Background of the Case

The case was brought before the Madras High Court by a group of people who participated in the recruitment process for the post of Food Safety Officer but were not considered in the selection list. The reason given by the recruitment board was that a “Bachelor’s degree in medicine” which was one of the criteria did not include a degree in Siddha or BDS. This stand was challenged by the petitioners.

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The Contentions of the Parties

The respondents argued that the definition of the term “medicine” as found in the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 should be imported into the rules prescribing qualification for the Food Safety Officer. It was also submitted that qualification for the appointment was a matter to be exclusively dealt with by the employer and that the writ court ought not to interfere in the matter.

The Court’s Analysis

The Madras High Court disagreed with the stand of the authorities, noting that the Indian Medical Council Act and the Food Safety and Standards Act were not connected or incidental to each other. Further, the provisions under the Food Safety and Standards Act were generally worded, and it was not for the writ court to narrow down its scope. The court also carried out a linguistic exercise of “parsing” and took each element of the specified qualifications individually. Finding that there were no common denominators between the qualifications prescribed, the court noted that the rule was broad and sweeping. Further, Veterinary Sciences, which had been specifically excluded in the Indian Medical Council Act, was one of the qualifications included in the Rule.

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The Court’s Decision

The court confirmed that a restrictive meaning could not be given to the term “degree in medicine” and that the same should be understood expansively. The court quashed the selection list to the extent that it excluded the petitioners and directed the respondent authorities to furnish a revised list.


The Madras High Court’s decision has been welcomed by those who believe that traditional medicine should be given its due place in society. This ruling not only recognizes the value of the Siddha and BDS systems of medicine but also promotes diversity in the healthcare sector. The decision is likely to have a positive impact on the recruitment process for the post of Food Safety Officer, as it expands the pool of eligible candidates and ensures that all qualified individuals are given equal opportunities.

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One thought on “Madras HC allows medical graduates to become Food Safety Officer

  1. Myself Midhun cv completed my msc in food science and technology and with 1 year of experience waiting for a good opportunity for my career .i promise that I will put my 100 percentage of effort for oppertunity that I got

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