10 May 2023 4:49 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the stand of the Lakshadweep administration on a plea which challenged the removal of meat and chicken from Mid-day meal scheme in island Union Territory.A bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed against the September 2021 judgment of the Kerala High Court which dismissed a PIL challenging...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the stand of the Lakshadweep administration on a plea which challenged the removal of meat and chicken from Mid-day meal scheme in island Union Territory.
A bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed against the September 2021 judgment of the Kerala High Court which dismissed a PIL challenging the Lakshadweep administration's decision to exclude chicken and meat from mid-day meals and to close down the dairy farms in the region.
“Why are you depriving children of this…?”, the Bench began formulating its question, only to be shortly interrupted by the Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj.
“A better thing has been given”, ASG pointed out.
“What better thing? Instead of chicken and mutton, they will have dry fruits?”, the Bench queried. The ASG then presented the new mid-day meal scheme before the Bench.
“Where is chicken? Suppose it’s part of my dietary or cultural habit, how can it be?’, the Bench further asked.
Mutton and chicken are given as supplementary items, it was clarified.
“Then continue giving it to them”, said the Bench.
The ASG reiterated that it’s a policy decision which was taken after looking into various aspects such as seasonal availability of items, economic factors, among others. “With disturbing the nutritional aspects, a decision has been taken”, the ASG said.
Before posting the matter on July 11 for the next hearing, the Bench orally said,
“In government schools, because of mid-day meals, people come to the schools…..we are only on the mid-day meal scheme.”
In May 2022, the Supreme Court had passed an interim order, directing the continuation of the interim order passed by the Kerala High Court in the case, which effectively meant that the authorities should continue including meat items in midday meals.
About closing down of dairy farms
The petitioner advocate contended that that Lakshadweep authorities can’t stop animal husbandry by saying that it is not “profitable”.
“There are so many programs are launched by the Central government. They can’t take a decision of the ground because it is not profit-making thing. They can’t do that. Because the policies are by the Centre. The policies of the Centre are to boost animal husbandry and diary farming. There’s a budget allocation to Lakshadweep.”
So, disbanding it is in contravention to the public policy, the advocate further added.
“(Kerala) High Court rejects my application on the ground that it is not profit making. Therefore, the decision was right, the Court said”.
The Court asked a question at this point.
“You want us to tell the Centre to keep on doing this business irrespective of the losses they are undergoing?”
“They are supposed to apply modern techniques to see that…Central government schemes say so. Article 48 also says the same thing”, the advocate said.
What is happening to cows here? the Bench further asked.
“Dairy farms are now being closed and cows are being auctioned. That’s the first decision.”
But this is a policy domain, the Bench said. This was also the Respondent’s primary argument against the plea.
Case Title: Ajmal Ahmed vs UOI | SLP [C] 19225/2021