SC Scheduled to Consider Plea Against Caste Survey in Bihar on August 14th

7 August, 2023 | Srishti Ruchandani

R National

Various petitions were moved in the Supreme Court challenging Patna High Court judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the Bihar Government.

The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will hear the plea challenging Patna High Court judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the Bihar Government on August 14.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti adjourned the matter to Monday.
The court was a hearing plea by an organisation “Ek Soch Ek Prayas”.
Various petitions were moved in the Supreme Court challenging Patna High Court judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the Bihar Government.
One was moved by Akhilesh Kumar through advocate Tanya Shree. He has challenged the Patna High Court decision which dismissed pleas challenging the Nitish Kumar government’s decision to conduct the survey based on castes. The order was delivered by Patna High Court on August 1.
The petitioner said that Patna HC has erroneously dismissed the said writ petition without taking into consideration the fact that the State of Bihar lacked competence to notify caste based survey vide notification dated June 6, 2022.
“In terms of Constitutional mandate, only the Union Government is empowered to conduct Census. In the present case, the State of Bihar has sought to usurp the powers of Union of India, by merely publishing a notification in the official gazette,” the petition said.
The petitioner submitted that the notification dated June 6th, 2022 is against the Constitutional mandate of distribution of powers between the State and the Union legislature as enshrined under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule VIIth of the Constitution and ultravires the Census Act, 1948 read with Census Rules, 1990 and is therefore void ab intio.
“The short question of constitutional importance that arises in the present Petition is whether the Notification dated June 6th, 2022 published by the State of Bihar based on decision of Bihar Cabinet dated June 2nd, 2022, to conduct Caste based Survey from its own resources and the consequent appointment of District Magistrate to supervise the same, is within the Constitutional mandate of separation of power between the State and Union?,” the petition read.
The petitioner submitted that the entire exercise of conducting Census by the State of Bihar is without authority and legislative competence and reeks of malafide. “That the Notification dated June 6, 2022 is against the Constitutional mandate of distribution of powers between the State and the Union legislature as enshrined under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule VIIth of the Constitution and ultravires the Census Act, 1948 read with Census Rules, 1990, the petition said.
“Therefore, the Notification dated June 6th, 2022 falls foul of Article 14, and 246 of the Constitution of India and is liable to be set aside,” it read further.
The petitioner claimed that the Union has the authority to conduct Census in India and the State Government had no authority to decide and notify the conduct of caste based survey in State of Bihar and the Notification dated June 6, 2022 is null and void.
Last week, the Bihar government filed caveat in Supreme Court in matter pertaining to Patna High Court judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the state government.
A Caveat application is filed by a litigant to ensure that no adverse order is passed against them without being heard. 
The Patna High Court dismissed pleas challenging the Nitish Kumar government’s decision to conduct the survey based on castes.
In the survey data pertaining to people of all castes, sub-castes, socioeconomic conditions, etc would be collected.
The decision of a caste census was taken by the Bihar cabinet on June 2, last year, months after the Centre ruled out such an exercise in the Census.The survey would cover an estimated population of 12.70 crores in an estimated 2.58 crore households in 38 districts, which have 534 blocks and 261 urban local bodies.