Petitions against Bihar caste survey to be taken up on Friday: Supreme Court | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Petitions against Bihar caste survey to be taken up on Friday: Supreme Court

ByAbraham Thomas
Aug 14, 2023 05:04 PM IST

The Bihar government ordered the caste survey after the Centre declined its request for a headcount of social groups other than SCs, STs and religious minorities

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said all petitions challenging the Patna high court’s August 1 verdict allowing the Bihar caste survey will be heard on August 18 and declined a request to put on hold the publication of the survey till the next date of hearing.

The Supreme Court declined a request to restrict Bihar government from publishing the caste survey (HT File Photo)
The Supreme Court declined a request to restrict Bihar government from publishing the caste survey (HT File Photo)

An appeal by a non-governmental organisation Ek Soch Ek Prayas was listed for a hearing before a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti on Monday. But when the court took up the case, it was informed that there were petitions by others such as Youth for Equality that had been filed but hadn’t been listed. The bench directed that all these petitions on the caste survey will come up on August 18.

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Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Youth For Equality, asked the court to consider ordering Bihar not to publish the survey. But the bench rejected the request. “That will amount to an indirect stay without hearing the other side. We do not want to do that without applying our minds. Wait till August 18, we will hear you that day,” the bench told Rohatgi.

The second round of the caste survey, which was scheduled to be held during April 15-May 15, was halted on the orders of the Patna high court. This restriction was lifted when the high court pronounced its verdict on August 1.

The high court dismissed writ petitions filed by Youth For Equality against the caste survey which argued that the survey was violative of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution and that the state would be stepping on the turf of the Union government, which carries out censuses.

The high court found the Bihar government’s decision to conduct the survey to be “perfectly valid, initiated with due competence, with the legitimate aim of providing development with justice”.

The high court also underlined that the Centre, as a matter of policy, decided not to carry out any caste-based enumeration and the mere inclusion of census under entry 69 of List-1 does not preclude the state from carrying out such exercise, as is carried out in Bihar.

“Karnataka has also done it through a commission and by a legislation, which only reinforces the power of state to carry out such survey for collection of data to achieve the constitutional goal of uplifting the downtrodden and the marginalised,” the high court observed.

The Mahagathbandhan government – an alliance of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), the RJD, and the Congress – ordered the survey after the Centre declined its request for a headcount of social groups other than SCs, STs and religious minorities as part of the Census.

It is likely that the legal sanction to the survey, which is aimed at pushing for more reservation for backward classes on the grounds that current quotas are not proportionate with the share of these communities in the population, will engender demand for similar surveys in other states.

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