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Caste-based census in Bihar challenged yet again in Supreme Court, PIL calls it against national integration

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Another petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the caste-based census in Bihar, the first phase of which was started in the state by the Nitish Kumar-led government on January 7 this year.

The Public Interest Litigation was moved by Advocate Mudit Kaul on behalf of National President of Hindu Sena, Vishnu Gupta.

It sought quashing of the notification issued by the State of Bihar on June 6, 2022 on the grounds that the executive decision to conduct a caste-based census was absolutely unconstitutional and beyond its purview, besides being against national integration.

The petition argued that as per the broad scheme of the Census Act 1948, only the Central government had the power to make rules, appoint Census Staff, requisition premises for taking censuses, pay compensation and obtain information related to the exercise.

It mentioned the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, ‘stating that Census’ fell under the Union List at serial number 69 and thus, it was only the Parliament that could make laws on the subject and only the Union Government had the executive power to notify census of any kind subject to provisions of the Constitution.

The plea submitted that the state government, by a mere executive order, could not conduct caste-based census in the absence of legislation/statute on the subject.

It said the Notification for caste census in the State of Bihar lacked statutory flavour and violated Article 14 of the Constitution on the grounds of being unreasonable and illegal.

The petition further said that the impugned Notification was also discriminatory and unconstitutional on account of the fact that the state government was only competent to legislate laws on the subjects enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

It alleged that the notification issued by the government of Bihar was illegal and unconstitutional, which attempted to strike at the unity and integrity of the country, in order to create social disharmony among the people on caste lines for petty vote bank politics.

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