Lakshadweep administration's decision to exclude meat from School’s mid-day meal menu, SC refuses to interfere saying “decision would not come within the scope of judicial review”

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Today, the Supreme Court of India refused to interfere with the decision of the Lakshadweep administration to exclude beef, chicken, and other meat from the mid-day meal menu for school children. The Lakshadweep administration also ordered the closure of all dairy farms in the archipelago run by the animal husbandry department whereas the top Court also refused to interfere with this decision. The Supreme Court gave the decision while hearing a SPL (Special Leave Petition) against the 2021 decision of the Kerala High Court dismissing the PIL petition. The matter was heard by a two-judge bench including Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Aniruddha Bose. During the Court proceedings today, Senior Advocate IH Syed appeared for the public interest litigant and argued that the mid-day meal for school children should be according to the cultural identity and gastronomic preferences of the children of different regions. On the contrary, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraja argued that the nutritional values of the food were maintained as prescribed under the National Food Security Act, 2013

After hearing the submissions of both sides, the bench ordered, “We do not find any error in the judgment of the Kerala High Court in dismissing the public interest litigation. So far as the mid-day meal is concerned, the administration has retained non-vegetarian items like egg and fish, which ASG Nataraj submits is available in abundance in the said islands. What is being questioned in this appeal is primarily a policy decision of the administration and no breach of any legal provision has been pointed out. It is not within the court’s domain to decide as to what would be the choice of food for children of a particular region. There is no scope of guesswork by the law courts on that count. The court will have to accept the administrative decision in this regard unless some outstanding arbitrariness is pointed out. As we have already indicated, there is no legal breach so far as the decisions impugned are concerned. We accordingly dismiss the appeal [since] this policy decision would not come within the scope of judicial review.”