The Kerala high Court has refused to stay the operation of Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR). The LDAR was challenged in a petition filed by Congress politician Noushad Ali, which also challenged the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA). The bench of Justice K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha has granted 2 weeks’ time to the Lakshadweep administration to respond to the petition, reported LiveLaw.
When the counsel for the petitioner prayed that the implementation be stayed in the interim, the court refused to grant the same and set the next hearing after 2 weeks.
The plea challenges the illegal interference with social, political and cultural realities of Lakshadweep by the Administrator. The plea contends that the LDAR has been objected to widely as it gives the authority the power to remove or usurp the small holdings of property owned by the islanders belonging to the Scheduled Tribes. It further contends that the powers vested in the authority violates Article 21 of the Constitution and also that the right to livelihood of the tribes will get affected.
The petitioner states that the current administration is lacking consideration towards the island’s inhabitant and their choices of food, culture and livelihood thus violating Articles 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), 16 (equal opportunity to all citizens in matters related to employment in the public sector), 19 (right to speech etc) and 21 (right to life).
The actions of Lakshadweep’s relatively new administrator Praful Patel have drawn criticism across opposition parties. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to intervene and stop what is being perceived as destructive policy changes being proposed by the Union Territory Administrator Praful Koda Patel in Lakshadweep. The Congress has already demanded that Patel be “immediately removed” as Lakshadweep administrator, and alleged that the proposals he has presented threatened the “peace and culture of the islands” and that his arbitrary restrictions were “harassing” people.
Patel has also been criticised by the BJP general secretary Mohammad Kasim who called him “authoritarian” adding that the proposals were “not in the interests of people on the islands.” Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal PP told the media that this draft “is aimed at usurping people’s land. The Authority will get huge power to take over land without protecting the interests of land owners. There is a move to develop roads as per National Highway standards. Why does Lakshadweep require huge highways? The Administrator is furthering the business interests of people in the mainland.’’
The Union Territory has Muslims making up over 90 per cent of the population and proposals such as a ban on beef where “No person shall directly or indirectly sell, keep, store, transport, offer or expose for sale or buy beef or beef products in any form anywhere in Lakshadweep” is seen as a directly targeting the community. As is the crackdown on the fishing community that makes up more than 80 per cent of the population. As reported earlier the fisherfolk’s temporary huts, sheds, boats, net-drying facilities and storage spaces have been removed from the shores citing “violation of coastal zone norms” by the Patel-led administration.
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