Education

Excluding meat from mid-day meal menu contrary to the scheme: Kerala HC

K.C. Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on June 23, 2021

Court orders status quo until further orders

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court observed that prima facie, switching over to a different menu, with the exclusion of chicken and meat from the midday meal scheme of schools in Lakshadweep would run contrary to the National Programme of Mid- Day Meal especially when it is formulated with the avowed object of ensuring the physical and mental health of the children.

The Bench, led by Chief Justice M. Manikumar, made the observations in its order staying the decisions of the Lakshadweep administration to close down dairy farms and remove meats from the menu of the midday meal scheme.

The court ordered that the serving of food, including meat, chicken, fish and egg, and other items to the school-going children of Lakshadweep continued until further orders.

The court pointed out that the National Programme of Mid-Day Meal in Schools indicated that food, including meat, chicken, fish and egg, had to be served to the children.

The court also pointed out that minutes of meetings of the UT Level steering monitoring committee and district task force on midday meal scheme held on January 27 revealed that even a physician who attended the meeting had opined that non-vegetarian foods especially fish, chicken and egg were essential for the growth of children. The court said there was no reason as to why the opinion of the physician was not taken note of. But then, the Committee seemed to have suggested the exclusion of meat from the menu. The court also ordered that the functioning of the dairy farms be continued until further orders.

Financially not viable

S Manu, the standing counsel of Lakshadweep had submitted there were two dairy farms with 69 animals. Of which only 47 were milking with very little output, and stated it is financially not viable to maintain them. The decision to close down the farm was taken to avoid revenue loss. The decision on change in the menu of midday meal scheme was taken due to difficulties in procurement of certain items in view of the Covid-19.

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Published on June 23, 2021

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