Kerala High Court: Raja Vihayaraghavan V., J., stayed the Lakshadweep Administration’s notice with regard to demolition of dwellings of Traditional Coastal Communities.

The instant case dealt with the provisions of the Laccadive Minicoy and Amini Islands Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulation, 1965 (Regulation, 1965). Evidently, the petitioners had been asked to vacate their homesteads and remove the alleged illegal constructions. The petitioner submitted that a notice had been issued by the Block Development Officer (BDO), who had not been conferred with any powers to issue a notice invoking Regulation 20. The said notice alleged that constructions had been contrary to the Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP) which was notified in the year 2016 and the same lies within 20 metres from the High Tide Line, which space had been categorized as a ‘No Development Zone’.

The petitioners contended that the properties had been devolved on the strength of proper title deeds much prior to the coming into force of the IIMP. To buttress this the petitioners relied on notification issued by the MoEF and argued that the notification clearly stipulated that the existing dwelling units shall be regularised so long as they were not used for any commercial activity and had not been sold or transferred to Non-traditional Coastal Community.

The counsel for the Lakshadweep administration, Mr. S.Manu submitted that powers had been conferred on the BDO to issue notices. Citing the alternate remedy, it was contended that the petitioners can appear before the Block Development Officer to state their version and produce records and appropriate orders shall be passed.

Considering the abovementioned, the Bench directed the petitioners to appear before the respondent and raise all their legitimate legal contentions including the lack of authority of the BDO in issuing such notice. The BDO was directed to consider the materials produced by the petitioners and take decision in accordance with law. Additionally, the Bench directed the respondents to maintain the status quo and not to make any attempt to interfere with the possession of the petitioners over the properties covered under the said notice, nor shall they demolish any structures situated therein.[Ubaidullakunhiyammakkada v. UT of Lakshadweep, WP(C) NO. 12906 of 2021, decided on 29-06-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

For the petitioners: Adv. S.R.Rohith and Adv. Harishama P. Thampi

For the UT of Lakshadweep: SC S.MANU

For Union of India: ASGI

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