Kerala High Court: The Division Bench comprising of A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath, JJ., addressed the issue relating to controversial regulations of the U.T. of Lakshadweep. The Bench granted the petitioner liberty to raise suggestions, objections etc. even after expiry of outer time limit of 21 days stipulated for public opinion.
In the instant petition, the petitioner, a native of Kavaratti in Lakshadweep Islands had approached the Court requesting for issuance of writ of mandamus directing Administer of Lakshadweep to issue a fresh public notice giving 30 days’ time to the public to submit their comments, suggestions etc. with respect to controversial draft Regulations. The petitioner contended that according to decision taken by the Committee of Secretaries held on 10-01-2014 on Pre-legislative Consultation Policy there should be a minimum period of 30 days for public to raise their views/objections for any draft legislation. Noticeably, the Lakshadweep Town and Country Planning Regulation, 2021 which was published on 28-04-2021, regarding which it had been stipulated by the authorities that members of public can submit the comments, suggestions etc. within twenty one days (on or before 19-05-2021) through registered post or email. The petitioner argued that on account of Covid restrictions in the island, many like him could not raise their suggestions/objections within that time. The petitioner also argued that the stipulation of outer time limit of 21 days was against the decision taken by the Committee of Secretaries on 10-01-2014.
The ASGI submitted that stipulation of 30 days is a matter relating to administrative expediency to be followed and that could not be construed as a right conferred upon a citizen as a matter of right to seek 30 days’ outer limit for raising such objection. Any administrative instruction of such nature therefore could not be relied upon to seek a writ of mandamus. Similarly, the counsel for Lakshadweep Administration argued that the administration had received 593 comments, suggestions, objections etc. and the same had been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Opining that it was for the Ministry to consider the suggestions, objections etc. as raised against the draft Regulations, the Bench stated it would not be proper for the Court to direct the Central Government or the Administrator to accept any suggestion or comments. However, the Bench added,
“In any system of governance, the Government would be eager to consider any such suggestion which may ultimately enable the Government to formulate their own decisions while granting approval of draft Regulations. Therefore, it is for the Central Government to consider whether any suggestions, comments or objections to be made by the petitioner or any person have to be accepted or not after the expiry of the time in the notification.”
In the above backdrop, the Bench directed that if the petitioner forwards his suggestions/comments to the Administrator within two weeks, the same shall be forwarded to the Central Government and it is for the Central Government to consider whether such objection, comments etc. is to be accepted or not.[Mohammed Sadique v. U. T. of Lakshadweep, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2352, decided on 31-05-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Adv. Joby Cyriac
For Union of India: ASGI. K.M.Nataraj
For U.T. of Lakshadweep: Adv. S.Manu