The Supreme Court has appointed a high-powered committee to look into allegations that certain officials in the Lakshadweep administration had permitted private resorts to operate in violation of the coastal regulations zone (CRZ).
A bench of justice TS Thakur and justice Gyan Sudha Misra appointed former SC judge justice RV Raveendran as the chairman of the five-member committee, and said it could seek the CBI's assistance to probe alleged violations by the officials with regard to construction of various resorts and home stays by private individuals on the island.
"The committee may examine whether there is any criminal element of neglect or act of omission or commission on the part of any of the officials in the Lakshadweep administration," the verdict authored by justice Thakur stated.
On an appeal by the Lakshadweep administration, the bench quashed a Kerala HC verdict permitting a private resort to operate on the island in violation of the CRZ. Holding the HC verdict allowing Seashells Beach Resort's plea to construct a 'home stay' resort as legally unsustainable, the bench said: "The resort can't be commissioned under a judicial order in disregard of serious objections raised by the administration. The objections have to be answered before any direction is issued."
It was alleged that Seashells Beach Resort had built a structure in the no-development zone, falling within 50 metres of the high tide line, violating CRZ norms. Widening the committee's ambit, the SC empowered it to study development projects on the island, and ascertain how future proposals would impact the indigenous population's livelihood.