Supreme Court agrees to hear plea against caste-based survey in Bihar

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Caste-based survey falls in legal soup
Image Source : FILE PHOTO Caste-based survey falls in legal soup

Bihar government’s caste-based survey once again faced a legal hurdle as the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a fresh plea against the survey in the state. The apex court will take up the plea on April 28.

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha took note of the submission of an advocate seeking an urgent hearing of the matter.

The lawyer told the bench that the caste survey began on April 15 and is scheduled to end on May 15. The bench said it would post the matter for hearing on April 28.


 

The apex court on January 20 had refused to entertain a batch of pleas challenging the Bihar government’s decision to conduct a caste survey in the state. It had said there is no merit in the petitions and dismissed them with liberty to the petitioners to approach the high court concerned.

Bihar CM praises caste-based survey

Supporting the Congress’ demand for an up-to-date caste census in the country, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said it would be beneficial for all sections of the society.

The survey report would help the government in better implementation of welfare schemes for the socially and economically disadvantaged groups, the chief minister said.

“We have been in favour of the caste census right from the very beginning. When the central government refused to do so, we decided to conduct the caste survey on our own. It is going on in the state.

The exercise will provide data to the government for carrying out works for the benefit of weaker sections of the society”, Kumar told reporters.

Second phase of caste survey underway

The month-long second phase of caste headcount is underway in Bihar from April 15 to May 15. The enumeration exercise, which started from January 7, will be completed by May. The Congress is the alliance partner of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) government in Bihar.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 16 demanding an up-to-date caste census, saying meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes are incomplete in the absence of such a data.

Addressing a rally in Katnataka’s Kolar, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday dared Prime Minister Modi to release the 2011 caste-based census data in the public domain and also demanded the 50 per cent cap on reservation be removed.

The 50 per cent ceiling refers to Supreme Court judgements pointing out that the overall reservation in government jobs and education for various communities should not breach the mark although there are exceptions with some states crossing the figure.

“The numbers from the caste census in 2011 were not made available, after which it was found that it was not done properly. We started demanding that it be done properly. All parties in Bihar had the same view when we decided to have a caste-based survey and it is currently being conducted in the state,” the chief minister said.

The Congress-led-UPA regime had compiled the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) in 2011. The reports from the census have been published except that of the caste data.

“The ongoing caste survey is a good initiative taken by the grand alliance_ government. Data related to people’s economic status and their caste will be collected during the headcount so that the state government can know how many people are poor and what sort of steps should be taken to bring them into the mainstream”, Kumar said.

People will be hugely benefited after recognition of their economic status, whether they belong to the upper caste, backward caste or extremely weaker sections of society, he said.

The decision to conduct a caste survey was taken by the Bihar Cabinet on June 2, 2022. Resolutions in support of a caste census had been unanimously passed by the bicameral legislature in Bihar twice, in 2019 and 2020. An all-party delegation from the state had also met the Prime Minister in this regard.

(With PTI input)

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