Members Only
lock close icon

Kerala HC Grants Interim Stay on Two ‘Reforms’ in Lakshadweep

One order pertained to dairy farms, and the other to non-vegetarian food items on the midday meal menu in schools.
The News Minute
Kerala High Court issues interim stay on two contentious reforms in Lakshadweep.  
(Image: Altered by The Quint)
Kerala High Court issues interim stay on two contentious reforms in Lakshadweep.  

In some relief for residents of the union territory of Lakshadweep, who have been protesting controversial reforms introduced by Administrator Praful Patel, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, 22 June, issued an interim stay on two of the orders given by him.

One pertained to closing down of dairy farms, and the other to taking non-vegetarian food items off the midday meal menu in schools.

The High Court further said that no action should be taken on these orders until the Union government files a counter-affidavit.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which will be considered for hearing next week, was filed by Ajmal Ahmed, a 29-year-old executive member of Lakshadweep Bar Association.

The Lakshadweep Islands have been in the limelight for the last couple of weeks due to protests against Patel, a former MLA from Gujarat, who took charge as the administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020.

He has proposed several reforms and draft regulations which are being seen as autocratic and hurtful to the ecology of the islands as well as the culture of the local Muslim majority population.

Apart from ongoing protests and a ‘Save Lakshadweep’ social media movement, the Kerala Assembly had also passed a unanimous resolution last month, expressing solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep and asking for Praful Patel to be called back.

What Does the Petition Say?

  • In his petition before the Kerala High Court, Ajmal called the measures being implemented under Patel’s administration “mischievous” and “unscrupulous”.
  • He alleged that these are aimed at destroying “the culture and ecology of the island” and were “in blatant violation of principles of natural justice.
  • The reforms, he claims, were introduced without allowing the islanders to raise their objections.

“All the people in the Island, regardless of party affiliation have thrown themselves into the task of preserving the tradition and culture of the Lakshadweep. But the responsible members of the administrator are silently implementing draconian measures even during the lockdown period, fully knowing that during the time of pandemic the public will not get abdicate opportunity to legally protest such illegal movement (sic),” the petition states.


On closure of dairy farms being operated by the Animal Husbandry Department, the petitioner said that after giving the order to close those on 21 May, the administrator also directed veterinary units to auction off available animals like bulls and calves.

The petition adds, “The attempt to close down the farm owned by the 4th respondent (the animal husbandry department) is with an intention to implement the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021, which bans slaughter of the cow, calves and bulls etc.,” and therefore, would ban beef on the islands.

The petitioner alleged, “This is nothing but interfering with the right to choose the food habit of the Island people, which is against the right enshrined under the Constitution of India.”

As for removing chicken and other meat from midday meals, Ajmal alleged that this too was done without any deliberations with stakeholders.
  • He further alleged that this is part of a decision to give the midday meal contract to Akshaya Patra, a Bengaluru-based NGO, and linked 105 cooks who were engaged as cooks in schools being dismissed to the same.
  • Akshaya Patra had been in controversy last year because of its decision to serve children food without onion, garlic and eggs – against nutrition science and needs – and was seen by some as a reflection of upper caste food habits in India.
  • Later, four independent trustees of the organisation resigned over alleged misuse of funds.

“After the 3rd respondent (Praful Patel) had taken charge as the Administrator of Lakshadweep, he is behaving in a belligerent manner to the island people. All the reforms being introduced by the administrator on the pretext of development of the island are totally out of sync with the social, political, cultural and environmental realities of the archipelago,” Ajmal said in the petition.

When the court had asked the reason behind passing the two orders in question, the Union government replied that since there were no proper facilities for storing meat, it was decided to drop it from the menu.

The reason for the Animal Husbandry department to close down the dairy farms was that such farms were found not to be financially viable. The court, however, did not find these reasons valid and stayed both the orders until further notice.

Recently, it was reported that Lakshadweep administration is trying to move its legal jurisdiction from Kerala High Court to Karnataka High Court. The legal experts in the region, including advocates and people, had raised concerns about the same.

Since Malayalam is familiar and spoken in both Kerala and Lakshadweep, the attempt at moving the jurisdiction to Karnataka High Court would throw the set judicial process out of gear, said those who had reservations. However, Lakshadweep Collector Asker Ali later replied denying the reports of moving the jurisdiction.

(This story was first published in The News Minute and republished here with permission.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Become a Member to unlock
  • Access to all paywalled content on site
  • Ad-free experience across The Quint
  • Early previews of our Special Projects

Published: 22 Jun 2021,07:24 PM IST