The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered an interim stay on the decision of the Lakshadweep Administration to ban meat items from midday meals in schools and shut down dairy farms on the island ( Ajmal Ahmed R Vs. Union of India)..The order was passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly on a petition filed by a resident of Kavaratti Island, Advocate Ajmal Ahmed, against the reforms by the administration. Advocate Peeyus Kottam, counsel for the petitioner, confirmed the same to Bar & Bench. .The petitioner contended that the decision of the administration to change midday meals menu and shut down dairy farms on the islands infringe upon the ethnic culture, heritage, food habits and the rights of the residents under Articles 19 and 300A of the Constitution of India..The petitioner stated that Lakshadweep has been providing midday meals since the 1950's and serving cooked meat and other foods to school going children from pre-primary to elementary levels. Since 2009, the same was being provided to students till the 12th standard as well. However, a new menu has now been implemented without any consultation that deleted meat items completely form the menu, it was submitted. .The petitioner also produced documents to show that the new Administrator, Praful Patel, is also planning to entrust the preparation of the midday meals to an NGO from Bangalore called 'Akshayapatra'. He submitted that presently the meals are prepared in kitchens attached to each school but since this proposal was raised, 105 employees engaged as cooks in various schools have been dismissed from their jobs. Such a proposal to entrust midday meals to an NGO, is illegal and condemnable, he contended..Regarding the order to shut down dairy farms on the Islands, the petitioner stated that the Administrator, along with the Director of Animal Husbandry, issued an order on May 21, 2021 directing all dairy farms run by the Animal Husbandry Department to be shut down. The order also directed veterinary units to dispose of available animals such as bulls and calves by auction. .He argued that the attempt to close down the farms was done with the intention to implement the proposed Animal Preservation(Regulation) 2021, which bans slaughter of cows, calves, bulls etc. By closing down dairy farms, residents of the islands will be forced to purchase milk products that are produced by private companies from other states such as Gujarat, he contended. He also brought up the fact that presently, the Central government is preparing plans to promote dairy farming in other states to help them achieve self sufficiency..Regarding the changing of the midday meal menu, The Court questioned the decision of the Administrator and asked what sort of advantage could there be by disrupting the traditional food practices of the islanders..The respondents claimed that change in midday meal menu was brought about due to a lack of storage facilities for meat items and that dairy farms were shut down as they had not been profitable..The petitioner also professed that the residents of the Islands depend mainly on the government for employment and since January, 2021, nearly 300 hundred people have lost their jobs as primary education teachers, midday meal cooks, employees of Department of Animal Welfare and Agriculture , among other. He claimed that this is due to the "Tuglaq Reforms" introduced by the Administrator..Another prayer in the petition was a to give a direction to the administration refrain from introducing the draft regulations named, Prevention of Anti Social Activities Act 2021 (Goondas Act), Lakshadweep Animal Preservation regulation 2021, Lakshadweep Panchayath Regulation 2021, Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 etc. , without publishing such draft regulations in the local language i.e., Malayalam and Mahal in local vernacular having circulation in the Lakshadweep for facilitating the islanders to understand the prose and consequences and to submit their objections against implementing such regulations..The Court saw merit in the petitioner's claims and issued an interim order staying the reforms to change the midday meal menu and shut down dairy farms.The Central government was given one week's time to file its counter affidavit.Until then, the High Court stated, no further action should be taken in matters concerning these two particular reforms..The case will be heard again after a week.