. The Supreme Court ordered Monday the continuation of an interim court order by the Kerala High Court requesting that the Lakshadweep administration continue to provide meat and poultry to schoolchildren in the Mid-Day Meal Programme pending the disposition of a petition challenging the final order of the HC ratifying its decision to remove these items and to close the financially unstable government-run dairy farms located on the island.
Issuing notice of the petition against the HC’s final order dated September 17, 2021, a bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and A S Bopanna directed that “in the meanwhile, the interim order passed by the High Court on 22.06. 2021 will continue”.
The petitioner approached the HC to quash the May 2021, Lakshadweep administration order, “whereby Director of Department of Animal Husbandry…inter alia issued directions, on the basis of direction issued by Secretary (Animal Husbandry), Union Territory of Lakshadweep to shut down all dairy farms under the Department of Animal Husbandry to get rid of bulls and calves. Immediately in the presence of the Action Committee Members by giving wide publicity and observing other formalities, and to quash…minutes of the UT Level Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee and District Task Force on mid-day meal scheme, dated 27.01. 2021, in which the menu has been modified to include fruits, chicken and meat.
In its June 2021, interim orders, the HC stated that the “functioning of the dairy farms should continue until further orders” as well that food, such as meat, poultry, egg and other products, be prepared and delivered to Lakshadweep’s schoolchildren, just like in the past.
However, the September 17, HC dismissed the petition stating that the petitioner had not proven any illegality or arbitrariness in the Lakshadweep administration’s policy decision in this matter.
The HC stated that “more than anything, nutritional aspects, and calorification should concern…rather then providing different types of food for the children.” The petitioner can’t argue that Lakshadweep has introduced an extreme law to disrupt the traditions of islanders, as that was the intended national program for mid-day meals.
The HC looked at the materials and concluded that “it was explicit and clear that extensive and detailed discussions were held with respect to the dairy farms” and that they are being run at a great loss. It was therefore decided that it would be a good idea to shut down these units.
It also stated that no one can force the Indian government or state/Union Territory to give them food other than what is required by their respective governments.
The HC stated that they were “clearly of the opinion that petitioner made the accusations against administrator and administration without understanding what the law meant in this matter regarding the mid-day meals scheme”.