The Lakshadweep administration, which has faced numerous protests from the island population against some of its policies, has raised a proposal to move its legal jurisdiction from the High Court of Kerala to the High Court of Karnataka, said officials.
The proposal was initiated by the administration after several disputes were brought before the High Court of Kerala against decisions taken by the new islands administrator Praful Khoda Patel.
These decisions included revising standard operating procedures for appropriate behavior at Covid, introducing the “goonda law” and demolishing fishermen’s huts for road widening.
Patel, who is the administrator of Daman and Diu, was given the additional charge of the Union territory of Lakshadweep during the first week of December last year, when former administrator Dineshwar Sharma is died of a brief illness.
This year, up to 23 claims, including 11 petitions, were filed against the administrator of Lakshadweep and also against the alleged bossy police or local government of the islands.
However, for reasons best known to the island’s administration, which is in the spotlight on its handling of these matters, it has proposed to move its legal jurisdiction from the high court of Kerala to Karnataka.
Efforts to solicit comments from administrator advisor A Anbarasu and Lakshadweep collector S Asker Ali were unsuccessful.
The letters sent to their official emails and WhatsApp messages did not elicit a response to a question asking for the rationale for the proposed transfer of legal jurisdiction.
The jurisdiction of a high court can only be displaced by an act of Parliament, in accordance with the law.
“The Parliament may, by law, constitute a high court for a territory of the Union or declare any court in such a territory as a high court for all or part of the objectives of this Constitution”, in accordance with article 241 of the Constitution.
Section 4 of the same article mentions that “nothing in this article derogates from the power of Parliament to extend or exclude the jurisdiction of a high court for a State to or from a territory of the Union or part of it. -this “.
Speaking to the PTI by telephone, Mohammed Faizal PP, member of Lok Sabha, said: “This was his first attempt (from Patel) to move judicial jurisdiction from Kerala to Karnataka”.
“Why was it so special to transfer it… it is totally a hijacking of post. The native language of the inhabitants of these islands is Malayalam,” he said.
“It should be remembered that the name of the high court is Kerala and Lakshadweep High Court. This proposal was conceived during his first visit to the islands,” Faizal said and asked if this was necessary and how could he justify the proposal.
Faizal said there were 36 directors before Patel and no one had that kind of idea.
“However, if this proposal comes to fruition, we will oppose it tooth and nail on the floor of Parliament as well as in the courts,” said Lok Sabha member of the Nationalist Congress Party.
He said the Save Lakshadweep Front (SLF) appealed to the Center to change the administrator as soon as possible.
“The SLF is a nonviolent popular movement which has asked the central leadership to replace Patel with someone who can be an administrator of the people,” he added.
Lakshadweep legal experts said that Malayalam is the spoken as well as the written language in both Kerala and Lakshadweep and therefore the process could be streamlined.
The relocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court will change the entire judicial system of the islands as all judicial officers are sent by the High Court of Kerala due to the common language and script.
Lakshadweep’s prominent lawyer CN Noorul Hidya said she had heard about the change of jurisdiction issue.
“But that’s not the right decision. How can they change the jurisdiction when we share the language link and court documents are only accepted in Malayalam,” Hidya told PTI by phone from Lakshadweep.
She said most people would oppose such a move because it would practically lead them to a denial of justice.
“You have to understand that the high court of Kerala is only 400 km away while that of Karnataka is more than 1000 km away with no direct connection either,” Hidya said.
Legal experts also felt that the change of the High Court would also mean an additional burden on the public treasury, as all cases, which are currently pending, would have to be reconsidered.