If a jawan or a officer of a police department, central agency or paramilitary force is seen with a paunch and his other medical records are also found not to be in order, he would be denied the President's medal for distinguished and meritorious services. This is the latest directive by the MHA, which says that police personnel should be physically fit and must qualify 'Shape 1' category. 

This category is the highest level of fitness in terms of psychological health, appendages, physical capacity and eyesight, hearing. The officers having these merits can be posted for any duty. Certainly physically fit would mean no flab.

The latest guidelines issued by the MHA for states also say that officers who do not have a clean image for their department will not  be recommended for a police medal. 

Guidelines have been sent to all police departments, including NSG, CISF, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB, RA&W, IB, CBI, NIA etc. Investigating agencies and task forces also fall in the loop. It asked the sponsored organisations to issue a separate certificate on medical fitness from authorised medical officer while recommending the person for medal. 

The government authority further stated that it will issue separate guidelines on fitness shortly. The circular, for now, added relaxation for "Shape 2", but with exceptions, depending on the type of duties and areas of employability basing on the fact whether the duties involve stress, accuracy in hearing or vision. 

There are other categories too, which include Shape 3,4,5 and other lower medical category, in which various conditions of recruits officers are mentioned by medical experts of respective forces agencies. The distinguished medal and meritorious awards are seen as a recognition for a law enforcement official's services to the country and public. An officer who is entitled for distinguished medal gets a raise of Rs 2,500 per month while a meritorious medal receiver gets a certificate.

However, there have been controversies surrounding the issuing of medals as police personnel have complained that the medals are being given to only those who are close to the top brass or are awarded to certain units like the anti-terrorism squads in state police though a constable on patrol duty serves the nation equally.

In its new regulation, the ministry has also specified the length of service for the awards. One has to serve a minimum of 18 years for a police medal for meritorious service and 25 years for the President's police medal for distinguished services. This is true for all police officers inrrespective of ranks and service. However, the police department has divided opinions about the new regulation as refusing an award to intelligent and efficient police officers, but with a paunch, is considered discriminatory in many quarters.