The Kerala High Court on Tuesday temporarily stayed two controversial orders of the Lakshadweep administration — one pertaining to closure of dairy farms and the other on change in the menu of midday meals for school children in the islands.
Lakshadweep Administrator Praful K Patel had recently ordered the closure of government-owned dairy farms, and for meat and chicken to be taken out of the menu of the midday meal scheme, prompting Ajmal Ahamed, a native of Lakshadweep, to file a public interest litigation in the High Court.
The petition said the order on midday meals was issued with mala fide intention to change the food habits of the people of the islands, and alleged that the decision to shut down government-run dairy farms was meant to promote marketing of dairy products from Gujarat, Patel’s home state.
Staying the orders and giving the Union Territory two weeks to file its counter affidavit, a division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly asked the Union government why it was upsetting the food habits of the region.
The two orders stayed by the High Court are among a clutch of controversial decisions and proposed legislation by the administrator — ranging from a ban on beef to disqualification of panchayat poll aspirants with more than two children, and introduction of an anti-goonda Act — that have led to turmoil in the Union Territory.
The petitioner also wanted a stay on the decision to hand over the midday meal scheme in the islands to a Bengaluru-based NGO, Akshaya Patra, but did not insist on it as the Union government informed the court that they didn’t plan to proceed with the decision.
The petition also said the Lakshadweep administrator should desist from implementing any reforms “infringing the ethnic culture, heritage, food habit and affecting the serene and calm atmosphere in the Lakshadweep Islands and also infringing the constitutional right guaranteed under Article 19 and 300A of the Constitution of India’’.