The Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel’s controversial orders of removing meat from the mid-day meal for students and winding up government-run dairy farms.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed,” we are unable to understand how there could be a change in the menu of food-items given to the children, prepared taking into account, the vital aspect of health factor”.
Further, it observed, “Prima facie, we find no reason for the change of food items, with the exclusion of meat and chicken. Therefore, we are inclined to pass an interim order directing the respondents,to provide food, as done before, by including meat and chicken,to the children of the schools in Lakshadweep”.
The court stated no further action should be taken on these two specific decisions of the meat ban and closing down of dairy farms, until a counter-affidavit was filed. The court asked the Lakshadweep administration to file its response to the petitions within two weeks.
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A Public Interest Litigation filed by a lawyer from Lakshadweep, Adv. Ajmal Ahmed. R,contented the new administrator’s order that they were passed in arbitrary and blatant violation of principles of natural justice, hence these orders are illegal and unsustainable in law, it alleged.
Advocate Peeyus A. Kottam, appearing for the petitioner, argued that inhabitants of Lakshadweep engaged mostly in Government activities to eke out their livelihood. The direction to immediately close down all the dairy farms run by the Department of Animal Husbandry contended to bring grave consequences to the people on the islands.
Moreover, the ban on meat from mid-day meal in school was contrary to the National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools and Annual Budget for 2020-21, wherein there is a provision to provide meat and chicken in the schools of Lakshadweep, he submitted.