HC declines plea for extending time for submitting comments

Petition seeks 30 days more for people to voice objections and suggestions on draft regulation

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday declined a plea for a directive to the Lakshadweep administrator to give a further time of 30 days for the people of the islands to submit their objections, comments, and suggestions on the draft Lakshadweep Town and Country Planning Regulation 2021.

However, the Bench comprising Justice A. Muhammed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath asked petitioner Mohammed Sadique from Kavarathi to forward his suggestions/comments in two weeks to the Administrator who should forward them to the Union Home Ministry. It was for the Union Ministry to consider whether his suggestions/objections should be accepted or not.

Disposing of a public interest petition by Mr. Sadique, the Bench observed that nothing would prevent the Union Ministry from entertaining the petitioner’s suggestions and objections. It might not proper for the court to direct the Central government to accept his suggestions/objections. However, in any system of governance, the government would consider such suggestions that might ultimately enable the government to form their decisions,” the court said.

When the public interest litigation came up for hearing, Additional Solicitor General K.M. Natarajan submitted that if a further time for receiving suggestions and objections on the draft regulation was granted, there would be a considerable delay at the cost of one individual. As for the Union Law and Justice Ministry order that 30 days time should be given for making suggestions or objections on draft bills or legislations,the ASG submitted that it was not applicable to any policy decision. In fact, it was an administrative instruction and could not be enforced by a court of law. The petitioner had contended that only 21 days had been given for submitting their comments and objections on the draft regulation.

S. Manu, counsel for Lakshadweep Administrator, submitted that as many as 593 suggestions, objection and comments had been received and forwarded to the Union Home Ministry.

Jobby Cyriac, counsel for the petitioner, argued that though the people of Lakshadweep was given time between April 28 and May 19 to submit their suggestions and objections, the islanders could not avail themselves of the opportunity on account of the lockdown.

He argued that natural justices as well as the right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India demanded that a fair opportunity of being heard be given to the people of the area in a fair manner before passing such a regulation.

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