Kerala HC stays Lakshadweep admin notice to demolish homes of Scheduled Tribes

The Kerala HC has stayed a show cause notice issued by the Lakshadweep Administration ordering for the demolition of the dwellings of the petitioners until the disposal of the writ petition.

Kerala High Court
Kerala High Court
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IANS

The Kerala High Court has stayed a show cause notice issued by the Lakshadweep Administration under Praful Khoda Patel ordering for the demolition of the dwellings of the petitioners until the disposal of the writ petition.

A single judge bench of Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan stayed the matter and observed that the Block Development Office lacked powers to issue notice against violating rules.

The petitioners, two residents of Kavarratti Islands, said in the petition that the show cause notices issued to them constituted an atrocious executive action coloured with malafides and illegality as they were issued on the grounds that their homes were constructed without the diversion certificate as per Laccadive Minicoy and Amini Islands Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulation.

The notice alleged that the buildings contravened the Integrated Island Management Plan as they lie within 20mts from the High Tide line, which was declared as a No development Zone. Accordingly, the structures were directed to be removed. The petitioners sought to quash the notices because their homes were constructed before the enactment of the statute, and they underscored that the statute did not have retrospective effect.

The petitioners mentioned that a ‘diversion certificate’ was applicable to lands where the government had the title deed. In this case, the government cannot issue a direction because the petitioners belong to scheduled tribes in Lakshadweep and they cannot be evicted from their residential homes. A diversion certificate is required if the owner of the land wants to change the use of the land from one purpose to construct their homes. The disputed land is not an allotted land, so the petitioners argued that the diversion certificate had no relevance at all.

The petitioners said that they were only challenging show cause notices, for which the Administration has given five days to reply. They had also submitted in the petition that all the procedure undertaken by the Lakshadweep Administration regarding notices to demolish structures did not follow due process of the law. Additionally, the petitioners cited the recent incident where a similar notice was issued to the fishermen of the Kavaratti Islands to demolish their structures. The Court had directed the petitioners to file a reply then.

However, in this case the administration had issued an order to demolish the structures after they filed a response in court. The petitioners submitted that they were worried this would happen in this case too. They also argued that the Integrated Island Management Plan does not empower any authority to demolish homes belonging to those of schedule tribes constructed on the island many years ago.

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Published: 29 Jun 2021, 1:48 PM