The Supreme Court on Monday, 2 May, ordered the continuation of the Kerala High Court's interim order, which directed the Lakshadweep administration to continue providing non-vegetarian items, including meat and chicken, in the mid-day meals at schools and allow the operation of dairy farms in the region.
While passing the order, the bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and AS Bopanna also issued notices to the Union of India and Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel in a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed against Kerala's High Court's September 2021 judgment, reported LiveLaw.
The judgment had dismissed a PIL challenging the administration's decisions not to include non-vegetarian items in mid-day meals and shut down dairy farms in the union territory.
Prior to dismissing the petition filed by Ajmal Ahmed, the high court, in June 2021, stayed the administration's decisions and asked the union territory to continue providing non-vegetarian items (meat, fish, chicken, and egg) at mid-day meals and allow the functioning of dairy farms until further orders.
On Monday, while hearing the SLP filed by Ahmed, the apex court allowed the continuation of this order.
In his petition to the high court, Ahmed, who is a resident of Lakshadweep and a lawyer, had called the measures being implemented under Administrator Patel "mischievous" and "unscrupulous."
He alleged that these decisions were 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, reported The News Minute.
However, in September that year, the high court approved the administration's decision and dismissed the PIL.
To challenge this, Ahmed approached the top court with the SLP, where he contended that a change in the food menu would be a violation of the right to choice of food under Article 21 of the Constitution. He also said that the changes would come in the way of the traditional food habits of the islanders.
Also, as most people were dependent on the government's activities to earn a living, an immediate shutdown of dairy farms run by the Department of Animal Husbandry would have grave consequences, he noted.
Ever since Patel took over as the administrator of Lakshadweep on 5 December 2020, residents of the region have been holding widespread protests against a slew of "anti-people" and "authoritarian" policies and reforms introduced by him.
(With inputs from LiveLaw, The News Minute.)