The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to put a stay on the implementation of the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021, Live Law reported. The draft regulation is one of the proposals made by Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, that has faced resistance from the locals and the Opposition.
Congress leader KP Noushad Ali had filed a petition to the Kerala High Court challenging the proposed law that seeks to bring in sweeping changes to land use patterns in the islands.
Hearing the plea on Friday, a bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha gave two weeks’ time to the Lakshadweep administration to respond to the plea. Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing on behalf of the Union Territory had sought time to file its reply.
The court refused to put a stay on the implementation of the draft regulation, after Advocate Anoop Nair, representing the petitioner, made a submission in this regard.
“Nothing doing, it’s a policy matter...Let them file a response in two weeks time and then we’ll see,” the court said, according to Live Law.
The petition filed by Ali contends that the regulation gives the administration “powers to remove or usurp the small holdings of property owned by the islanders belonging to the Scheduled Tribes”. The petition also submits that the regulation is in violation if Article 21 of the Constitution (Right to Life and Liberty) and that it gives “immense power” to the Lakshadweep administrator working under the central government.
Apart from the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021, the plea also seeks directions to set aside the newly-introduced Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act which allows a person to be detained without public disclosure for up to a year.
Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and demanded his removal from the post. The parties accused him of harassing local people and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Opposition leaders have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, is carrying out the political agenda of the BJP to target Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population. Some local members of the BJP have also opposed the new rules.
Meanwhile Patel on Thursday defended the new regulations, saying that these were efforts to develop the region and help its residents. The Union Territory’s Collector S Akser Ali said that those objecting against the proposals had “vested interests” and were running a “misinformation campaign”.
Both Ali and Patel said that the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Act would be instrumental in developing the Union Territory on the lines of island country Maldives. In defence of the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, Ali said like any other state, internal security was becoming a “major issue” in the islands.