Kerala HC stays Lakshadweep administrator’s move to drop meat items from midday meal scheme

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on June 22, 2021

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the Lakshadweep administration’s decisions to close down dairy farms run by its Animal Husbandry Department and remove meat items from the midday meal scheme of schools.

The Bench led by Chief Justice S Manikumar passed the stay order on a writ petition filed by Ajmal Ahmed of Kavaratti Island, the capital of the Union Territory, challenging the Animal Husbandry Department’s order to shut down dairy farms as well as the decision of the District Task Force on the midday meal scheme to drop the non-vegetarian items from the menu of the midday meal scheme.

Also read: Kerala HC rejects petition against draft regulation of Lakshadweep Administration

The petitioner contended that the decision was taken as part of the administration’s efforts to implement the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021, which bans slaughter of the cow, calves, and bulls etc and also the sale and purchase of beef and beef products. The closure of dairy farms would curtail the source of dairy products and compel islanders to purchase milk products imported from Gujarat.

In fact, the decision came at a time when the Central Government was preparing various plans for promoting dairy farms throughout the country and helping each State and UT to promote dairy farming to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production. The Administrator was adopting measures to destroy the well-maintained dairy farms and other available infrastructure established in the islands for promoting dairy farms, the petitioner claimed.

The petitioner pointed out that the Lakshadweep administration had started to provide a midday meal programme in 1950’ which included cooked meat for school-going children from pre-primary to the elementary stage. The programme had later been extended up to the 12th standard.

In fact, the new menu was implemented even without any deliberations and consultations. There was also a proposal to entrust the preparation of food for MDM, to a non-governmental organisation “Akshayapatra” based in Bengaluru. The MDM was presently being prepared in the kitchen attached to each school and was functioning in all schools without any room for any complaint. These decisions were nothing but interference with the right to choose the food habit of the Island people guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petitioner termed the decisions of the administrator as per se illegal and unsustainable in law.

Published on June 22, 2021

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