The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Lakshadweep administration’s decision to exclude meat products, including chicken, from the midday meal menu for school children, saying the court cannot decide on what food should be eaten.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi dimissed the plea challenging the decision of the Lakshadweep administration and said courts cannot intervene in administrative decisions.
“It is not the court’s domain as to what food should be eaten by children of a particular region. There is no scope of interference by courts of law on that count. Policy decision would not come within purview of judicial review,” the bench said.
The top court was hearing a plea challenging the decision of the union territory administration to close dairy farms and remove meat products, including chicken, from the midday meal menu.
The Kerala High Court had on June 22, 2021 stayed the operation of two orders of the Lakshadweep administration to close down dairy farms and remove meat products from the menu for midday meals for school children.
The division bench of the high court had in September 2021 dismissed the PIL filed by advocate Ajmal Ahmed, who alleged when Praful Khoda Patel took charge as the island’s administrator in December last year, his top priority was to close down the farms run by the animal husbandry department and to “attack” the food habits of the islanders being followed from time immemorial.
“We find force in the contention advanced by the learned counsel for the Administration that due to the geographical conditions of the islands non availability of green fodder cannot be ruled out, which, in fact, will interfere with the smooth conduct of the animal husbandry activities and less production of milk,” the high court had said in its order.
Challenging the May 21, 2021 order of the Director of Animal Husbandry, for immediate closure of all dairy farms, Ahmed said it was done with an intention to implement the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021 which bans the slaughter of cows, calves and bulls.
He had submitted that as per this proposed rule, the sale and purchase of beef and beef products would be banned by closing down the farms, curtailing the islanders’ source of getting milk products, and forcing them to purchase milk products imported from Gujarat.
Contending that the island administrator was silently implementing draconian measures, the petitioner had also challenged the administration’s decision to remove chicken and other meat items from the menu of midday meals for school children.