A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the Lakshadweep administration’s decision to close down dairy farms run by its Animal Husbandry Department and remove meat from the menu of the midday meal scheme of schools on the islands.
The Bench led by Chief Justice S.Manikumar passed the stay order on a writ petition filed by Ajmal Ahmed of Kavarathi island challenging the Animal Husbandry Department’s order and the decision of the district task force to drop non-vegetarian items from the menu of the midday meal scheme of schools.
The petitioner contended that the decision to close down the dairy farms was taken as part of the administration’s efforts to implement the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021 which bans slaughter of 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 milk products and compel islanders to purchase the same imported from Gujarat. The Administrator was adopting measures to destroy the well-maintained dairy farms and other infrastructure established on the islands for promoting them.
The petitioner pointed out that the Lakshadweep administration started to provide midday meal in 1950s, which included cooked meat for schoolgoing children from the preprimary to elementary stage. The programme was later extended up to 12th standard.
The decision of the district task force to alter the menu for the midday meal was part of the Administrator’s ill-motivated intention to implement his hidden agenda. In fact, the new menu was implemented without deliberations and consultations.
There was also a proposal to entrust the preparation of food for the midday meal to a non-governmental organisation, Akshayapatra, based in Bengaluru. The midday meal was now being prepared in the kitchen attached to each school and was functioning in all schools without 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 illegal and unsustainable in law.