Your legal questions answered by Justice K Chandru, former Judge of the Madras High Court

Administrators can't have shaky position when law on ‘right to food' is very clear
Illustration of Justice K Chandru (Retd)
Illustration of Justice K Chandru (Retd)

CHENNAI: The exclusion of beef and pork variants at the Ambur biryani festival has come as a shock as it is happening under the rule of rationalists who had earlier opposed the Union government's ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter. Since the act by the Tirupattur district administration discriminates against the SC/ST community and Muslims and their food habits will it stand in a law of court? If the Election Commission via the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) can bar any canvassing of votes based on religion or caste, can't the apex court suo motu take up the issue of making food a political weapon and end discrimination offending minority sentiments? — Sony Mervin, Manali

In this country, the right to food has become a vexed question. The Supreme Court, in the case filed by Hinsa Virodhak Sangh (2008), has held that the 'right to food' is a fundamental right. However, the food question has divided people on caste and religious lines. Dr Ambedkar wrote: “For it completely marks off the Touchables from the Untouchables. The Touchables, whether they are vegetarians or flesh-eaters, are united in their objection to eat cow's flesh. As against them stand the Untouchables, who eat cow's flesh without compunction and as a matter of course and habit”.

The Tirupattur Collector’s sudden decision to exclude beef biryani from being served at the Ambur biryani festival cannot be justified. It only shows that the policy makers and the administrators are surprisingly having shaky position in such matters, especially when the law is very clear. Ultimately 'no beef' has led to 'no biryani festival'.

Tangedco has insulated itself from paying damages over power outages

Electricity is an essential requirement for all facets of our life. Unannounced power shutdowns most often eat into the livelihood of those running micro, and small units and do not have any power backup. Can they claim compensation for the losses incurred (with proof)? — Rajkumar, Vyasarpadi

Power outages has become rampant, leading to destruction of not only SMEs but also small traders. Successive governments have failed to evolve perspective planning on issues of power. However, it will be difficult to sue Tangedco as it has sufficiently insulated itself from any claim for damages towards power outages. We will have to suffer in silence.

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