Lakshadweep: HC Stays Orders on Closing Down Dairy Farms, Removing Dairy Items From Midday Meals

The Praful Khoda Patel administration had been facing island-wide protests in the aftermath of these and more sweeping decisions.

New Delhi: The Kerala high court on Tuesday, June 22, stayed the operation of two recent orders of the Lakshadweep administration – to close down dairy farms and remove meat products, including chicken from the menu of midday meals for school children.

The order comes two days after the Lakshadweep administration, which has been facing widespread protests from the islands’ people over some of its policies, mooted a proposal to shift its legal jurisdiction from the Kerala high court to the Karnataka high court.

The stay order was issued by a division bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly on a PIL filed by a lawyer from the islands.

Petitioner Ajmal Ahmed R. had alleged that when Praful Khoda Patel took charge as island administrator in December last year, his priority was to close down the farms run by the Animal Husbandry department and to attack food habits that islanders had followed for a long time.

Also read: In Lakshadweep, a Strongman Leader Courts Ecological Mayhem

Challenging the May 21, 2021, order of the Director of Animal Husbandry, directing the immediate closure of all diary farms, Ahmed said it was done with an intention to implement a proposed ‘Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021,’ which bans slaughter of cows, calves and bulls.

He submitted that as per this proposed rule, sale and purchase of beef and beef products would be banned by closing down the farms, curtailing the islanders’ source of getting milk products and forcing them to purchase milk products imported from Gujarat.

The Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021, colloquially known as the beef ban, that was introduced in late February and the lifting of the ban on alcohol, have invoked reactions which express grave misgivings and comparisons with the Centre’s attitude towards Kashmir, Tarushi Aswani recently wrote for The Wire.

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

The petitioner also challenged the administrations’ decision to remove chicken and other meat items from the menu of midday meals for school children in Lakshadweep.

“Now the Administrator wants to intervene and as part of his ill-motivated intention to implement his hidden agenda, a meeting of the union territory level monitoring committee was held at his instance.

As per the decision taken by said committee in the meeting held on January 27, 2021, a new menu has been suggested, totally altering the prevailing menu for mid-day meal for the students in the Islands,” he alleged.

(With PTI inputs)