SC tells Patna HC to take call of petitions for stay on caste-based survey
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by organisation Youth For Equality which had approached the high court on April 18 to stay the survey
The Supreme Court on Friday told the Patna high court to immediately take a call on petitions seeking stay of the caste-based survey in the state, deciding the matter preferably within three days.
With the survey entering the second phase and expected to conclude by May 15, a bench of justices MR Shah and JB Pardiwala said, “It is not in dispute that the matters are pending before the high court (of Patna). It appears that as on date, there is no decision by the high court even on grant of interim order.”
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by organisation Youth For Equality which had approached the high court on April 18 to stay the survey.
The high court posted the matter for hearing on May 4 without passing any order and it was against this order, the organisation approached the top court.
The Court allowed the petitioner to make an application for stay before the high court while requesting that the same be considered and decided at the earliest and preferably within three days from the mentioning of the application before the chief justice of the high court.
With Bihar government represented in Court, the bench asked the state, “This survey is being undertaken for what purpose. Is it for electoral roll. Why are you working so hard on this exercise.”
State’s standing counsel Manish Kumar told the Court that the survey was imperative and need to be carried out as this exercise had not been done for a long time.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi assisted by senior lawyer Aparajita Singh said, “It is imperative because elections are to take place.”
Rohatgi said that the HC order will make their petition redundant as the survey will end by May 15.
He said that such survey is illegal, and several petitions have challenged it as it is a “burning issue” in the state.
It was in June last year that the state government decided to conduct a door-to-door caste census.
In January, a petition challenging this survey was filed in the top court which felt that the same should be filed before the high court.
The survey was opposed on the ground that this was not meant to be a sample survey but a census which only Centre can conduct under Section 3 of the Census Act, 1948 and the accompanying Census Rules.
The Youth for Equality in its plea, further claimed that such a survey had no legal backing and was conducted on an executive order issued by the state.
It further claimed that the census required every household to disclose sensitive personal details such as religion, caste, income which constitute privileged information of citizens under the right to privacy, declared a fundamental right by Supreme Court under Article 21.