The Kerala High Court on Friday rejected a petition questioning the Lakshadweep administration’s decision to close dairy farms and remove meat from the mid-day meal in schools saying it can’t interfere in policy matters.
Earlier, the court had stayed the operation of two controversial orders passed by the Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel. Hearing the plea filed by Ajmal Ahamad, a resident of the island, once again the administration contended that the court can’t interfere in such policy decisions. Counsel for administration S Manu also pointed out that dairy farm was running in losses and the island was losing ₹one crore every year. He also argued that nutrition needs of the children can be increased with an altered menu.
The counsel listed out the nutritional value of the new menu and said it was well above the stipulated value. He argued that the petitioner, also an advocate, had filed a public interest litigation for raising unfounded and unverified allegations and for publicity. He also pointed out that the petitioner is a member of the Save Lakshadweep Forum which is leading the ongoing protests.
But the counsel for petitioner, Peeyus Kottam, contended that such norms would infringe upon the ethnic culture, heritage, food habits and other rights of the residents under Article 19 of the Constitution. He said earlier food items like chicken, fish and eggs should be continued and sought re-opening of dairy farms. After considering the detailed reply justifying the policy decision, a division bench of Chief Justice S Mani Kumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly dismissed the public interest litigation.
An archipelago in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep was in the news for all the wrong reasons recently.A section of residents protested against three draft regulations brought in by new administrator Praful Khoda Patel, saying they would affect the unique culture and tradition of the island.
They opposed the move to make the island a tourist destination, a ban on cattle slaughter, two-child norm for local body members, liquor licence, goonda law and other new rules.
But BJP leaders from the island said some vested interests were stoking the fire and provoking local people to stall developmental projects on the island. On May 31, the Kerala assembly had passed an unusual resolution demanding the recall of the administrator. But the administration also maintained that some leaders from Kerala were provoking residents and they desperately needed development.