Friday, March 31, 2023

PIL in Supreme Court challenges Caste Census in Bihar, calls it against the spirit of Constitution

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A public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court against the ongoing caste census in the State of Bihar, stating that the exercise violated the basic structure of the Constitution.

Filed by Nalanda resident Akhilesh Kumar through Advocate Barun Kumar Sinha, the petition sought quashing of the notification issued by the Bihar government on June 6 last year regarding the caste census.

The State of Bihar kickstarted the caste-based Census on January 7 this year, claiming that the exercise would provide scientific data for carrying out welfare schemes for weaker sections of the society.

The plea, which was likely to be taken up for hearing in the coming days, said the notification issued by the Deputy Secretary of Bihar government in respect to conducting a caste-based survey in the state, was both ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’.

The petition further sought directions to the authorities concerned to refrain from conducting the exercise.

As per the plea, the notification violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which provided for equality before law and equal protection of the law, adding that it was “illegal, arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional”.

It pointed out that if the proclaimed purpose of the caste-based survey was to accommodate the people of state suffering from caste persecution, the distinction on the basis of caste and country of origin was both irrational and unjustified.

It added that none of these distinctions corresponded with the ostensible purpose of the law.

The petition raised seven important points, which are:

Whether the Constitution of India gave a State Government the right to conduct caste census?

Was the notification issued by the Deputy Secretary of Bihar Government on June 6, 2022 against the Census Act 1948?

Did the Constitution legally permit a state government to issue notification of caste census, in the absence of law?

Whether the decision to conduct caste-based census was taken unanimously by all political parties of Bihar?

Was the decision of political parties for Bihar to conduct caste census binding on the government?

Whether the June 6 notification of Bihar government was against the verdict delivered by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on January 2,2017 in the Abhiram Singh vs C.D. Commachen case

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