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Fresh Plea Filed in SC Seeking Quashing of Bihar Caste Census

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Fresh Plea Filed in SC Seeking Quashing of Bihar Caste Census

Last Updated: January 10, 2023, 21:27 IST

The petition highlighted that the notification for caste census violates basic structure of the constitution.(Representational image: ANI/File)

The petition highlighted that the notification for caste census violates fundamental construction of the structure.(Representational picture: ANI/File)

The Bihar authorities led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar started the caste-based census train on Saturday

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court towards the continuing caste census in Bihar. The petition highlighted that the notification for caste census violates fundamental construction of the structure.

The petition, which is more likely to come up for listening to in the approaching days, alleged that the notification was “discriminatory and unconstitutional”.

The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by advocate Barun Kumar Sinha, sought quashing of the notification issued by deputy secretary, government of Bihar, in respect of conducting a caste survey in the state and to refrain the authorities concerned from conducting the exercise.

The petition alleged that the notification dated June 6, 2022 violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before law and equal protection of the law, adding that the notification was “illegal, arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional”.

“If the proclaimed purpose of the caste-based survey is to accommodate the people of State suffering caste persecution, the distinction on the basis of caste and country of origin is irrational and unjustified. None of these distinctions correspond with the ostensible purpose of the law,” Nalanda resident Akhilesh Kumar said in his petition, according to news agency PTI.

The Bihar government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar began the caste-based census exercise on Saturday. The government will conduct the caste census in two phases. In the first phase, which will be over by January 21, the number of all households in the state will be counted. In the second phase, which will be from March, data pertaining to people of all castes, sub-castes and religions will be collected. Enumerators, whose training began on December 15, will also record information about the financial status of all people.

The exercise will be completed by May, 2023 a delay from its date of completion of February 2023.

ALSO READ: Bihar Caste Census: First Phase of Survey to Begin on Saturday; Why is The Exercise Being Held? Explained

WHY IS THE CASTE CENSUS BEING HELD?

Caste-based count has been a major issue in Bihar politics, with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and all constituents of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ demanding that the exercise be undertaken at the earliest. The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had agreed to conduct the exercise at the national level in 2010, but the data collected during the census were never processed. The state government embarked on the exercise after Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha last year that the Centre would not undertake caste-based enumeration other than the SCs and STs.

It has been the contention of Nitish Kumar, himself an OBC, and the RJD, which emerged in the thick of the Mandal era, a fresh estimate of various social groups was essential since the last caste census held in 1931. The 1931 census by the British government had pegged the OBC population at 52 per cent.

In India, quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs) are at 15 per cent and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) at 7.5 per cent, and are based on caste and tribal identities. The highest reservation mandate for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) at 27 per cent and was formulated as per the BP Mandal Commission.

On 16 November 1992, the Supreme Court upheld the Mandal Commission’s 27 per cent quota for backward classes.

Nitish Kumar had said the enumeration exercise of the population would help the government formulate more accurate welfare schemes. After holding an all-party meeting in June 2022, the Chief Minister announced the caste census and said that the purpose of conducting the enumeration is to take people forward so that no one gets left behind in the state.

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