Center denies plan to move legal jurisdiction of Lakshadweep from Kerala to Karnataka HC

Amid protests from residents, the Center clarified that the Lakshadweep administration had not sent any proposal to move its legal jurisdiction from Kerala to the High Court of Karnataka. This was revealed in Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s written response to a starless question from Congressmen Anto Antony, Rajmohan Unnithan and Hibi Eden. Earlier, the PTI reported that such a proposal was raised after 23 claims, including 11 lawsuits, were filed against decisions taken by the administrator of the Union territory, Praful Khoda Patel.

Notably, only Parliament has the power to displace the jurisdiction of a High Court in accordance with Article 241 of the Constitution. In another key development, Kerala HC rejected a plea calling on the administration to publish the draft regulation in the vernacular languages, particularly Malayalam. At the same time, the division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Judge Shaji P Chaly authorized the applicants to apply to the Home Office for further assistance.

The opposition calls for the draft regulation to be withdrawn

Several opposition parties including Congress, NCP, Makkal Needhi Maiam and CPI (M) have joined forces to call for the recall of the administrator of Lakshadweep for his alleged “anti-popular” policies. Leader of the BJP, Praful Khoda Patel took office in December 2020, becoming the first person from a non-civilian background to be appointed to this post. Defending the contentious rules, the collector of Lakshadweep said that the administration wanted to develop the territory of the Union like the next Maldives. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured that all their concerns would be taken into account.

  • Relaxation of the strict standard operating procedure for COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases as Lakshadweep has the highest test positivity rate;
  • The law on the prevention of anti-social activities has been notified by the administration, which opens the way for preventive detention in a place that records the fewest crimes;
  • Unemployment rose dramatically after hundreds of people working for the government, including 200 marine protection supervisors, more than 193 contract employees from the tourism department and more than 190 employees from other departments, were made redundant;
  • The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Draft Regulation to ban the slaughter, transport, purchase and sale of beef products violates residents’ right to adequate livelihood;
  • The new amendments consist of “unconstitutional rules” such as prohibiting people with two children from participating in elections or working in Panchayats;
  • The destruction without warning of the fishing sheds and tools of local fishermen as part of the coastguard policy plunges them into poverty.

Thelma J. Longworth

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