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Kerala High Court: Shaji P. Chaly, J. entertained a writ petition filed by a mother of the minor aged 2 years, who was a native of Union Territory of Lakshadweep. She sought to quash orders issued by the Lakshadweep Administration emphasizing certain regulatory measures to enter the Island, among others, to the family members also who were residents of the mainland, and for other related relief.

Factual matrix of the case is that the petitioner’s mother was a member of the Scheduled Tribe community and was native of one of the islands known as Kiltan Island. The petitioner contended that the orders passed by the authority were illegal and arbitrary which prescribed procedures to issue, reject, renew, endorse and cancel the Entry Permit to various categories to the Union Territory. It was further contended that the order contravened and replaced certain provisions of the Islands (Restrictions on Entry and Residence) Rules, 1967. It was pointed that the rules were made by the Administrator in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 9 of the Regulations, 1965, with the previous sanction of the Central Government.

The Rules which were in vogue for around 50 years enabled the family of a native of the Islands who hailed from the mainland; to visit any of the Islands of Union Territory without a permit. It was submitted that the orders passed by the Administrator without any legislative competence, since Section 9 of the Regulations, 1965, only enabled the Administrator of the Islands to make rules with the sanction of the Central Government for the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe by imposing reasonable restrictions on the right of any person who was not a native of the Islands to visit or reside in the islands. However, the orders had been issued by a delegate to the Administrator. The main contention of the petitioner were that the new classification made under trusted upon the petitioner’s requirement of securing entry permit was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, as the restrictions contained thereunder interfered with the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Articles 14 and 19(1)(d), (e) and (g) of the Constitution of India.

On the contrary, the respondents stated that there was a long pending demand from all stakeholders including political parties, elected members, the general public, etc. to simplify the procedure for issue of entry permit to various categories of persons/visitors. Accordingly, the Administrator, Lakshadweep, constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Collector and Development Commissioner, Lakshadweep and guidelines were issued as per the recommendations of the said committee. The Rule stipulated was ‘no persons who are not a native of the island shall enter or reside in or attempt to enter or reside in the islands except under and in accordance with a permit issued by the competent authority.’

The Court observed that special status was given to Union Territory of Lakshadweep in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the orders issued thereunder, with the intention of protecting the ethnic culture, heritage and to maintain the serene and calm atmosphere in the said Islands, and not to interfere with their culture and habits unnecessarily by the mainlanders. But the father of the petitioner who was not a native of the Island had to seek the permit every time when he has to visit his family. Keeping in mind the Court passed an order in favor of the petitioner that whenever an application is made it must be processed at the earliest possible time. Still, the Court found no arbitrariness or unconstitutionality in the orders as contended by the petitioner.

The Court opined that, “provisions of the Scheduled Areas (Part A States) Order, 1950, Order 1951 specified above, and other provisions of law discussed above, it can be seen that the restrictions imposed in Exts.P1 and P2 are only procedural in nature, which are not creating any complete or absolute embargo against the family members who are mainlanders to visit the Islands, and it is also not creating any prohibition in contravention of the Rules, 1967.”[Master Ryan Adam Ajit v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2669, decided on 12-04-2019]