Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel suffered a major setback on Tuesday with the Kerala High Court staying the operation of two of his controversial orders.
A High Court bench, comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly, stayed the order to close down dairy farms in the island and another order to remove chicken and other meat products from children’s mid-day meals.
The stay orders were issued after considering the Public Interest Litigation filed by Kavaratti resident Ajmel Ahmed.
The bench also asked the island administration to respond to the PIL within two weeks.
The petitioner pointed out that the administrator issued the orders with the intention of altering the food habits of the islanders. He alleged that this was a prelude to the implementation of the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation) 2021 Bill that seeks to ban cattle slaughter and consumption of beef and beef products.
He further alleged that the dairy farms were closed to promote dairy products from a manufacturer from Gujarat.
The bench asked the counsel for the Lakshadweep administration the reasons for its decision to close down the dairy farms.
The counsel responded that non-profitability was the reason for closing them down.
The bench further asked the logic behind the decision to change children’s diet in the mid-day meals. The counsel stated that the decision was taken because of the non-availability of the meat storing facilities.
Relief for islanders
The stay order gives a huge reprieve for the islanders, who have been protesting against Praful Patel’s decision to bring in a slew of administrative reforms.
The residents staged a 12-hour hunger strike on June 7. A week later, they organised a black-day protest when Praful Patel arrived at the island on June 14.
A preventive detention law and another one to bring in sweeping changes to land use patterns are the other controversial reforms mooted by Praful Patel.