'Govt Conducting Only Caste Based Survey, Not Census; Participation In Exercise Is Voluntary': Bihar Govt Submits In High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay

6 July 2023 9:32 AM GMT

  • Govt Conducting Only Caste Based Survey, Not Census; Participation In Exercise Is Voluntary: Bihar Govt Submits In High Court

    Objecting to a bunch of writ pleas filed before the Patna High Court challenging the caste-based survey in the State, the Bihar Government has submitted before the HC that it is competent to conduct a caste-based survey collecting data on caste, jati and socio-economic well-being of the people of the state.The Government has also submitted that the people are not being forced to declare...

    Objecting to a bunch of writ pleas filed before the Patna High Court challenging the caste-based survey in the State, the Bihar Government has submitted before the HC that it is competent to conduct a caste-based survey collecting data on caste, jati and socio-economic well-being of the people of the state.

    The Government has also submitted that the people are not being forced to declare their caste and that participation in the entire exercise is purely voluntary and this fact makes it different from a caste-based census wherein declaration of caste is mandatory.

    The submissions were made on Wednesday by the Advocate General of the State PK Shahi and the Additional Advocate General Anjani Kumar, appearing for the state government, before a division bench of Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Partha Sarthy.

    A categorical submission was made that in the survey in question, not a single person has alleged that information is being forcibly taken from them in the name of the survey.

    They added that the intention of the State government is very clear and that the survey, whose 80% work is complete, is being conducted for the betterment of the people of the state so that the benefits of social and economic schemes can be conveyed to them properly.

    In addition to oral arguments, the government has also filed an affidavit in response to the writ pleas challenging the caste-based survey, wherein it has been stated thus: 

    "It is undeniable that this survey is not a census. There may be some similarities but there are glaring differences. These two processes are not congruent. Differences and similarities are less important but the most important legal question is whether the Bihar Caste Based Survey is putting any threat to or obstruction upcoming Census 2021 or not. The answer is a big NO. There is also no infringement of the jurisdiction of the Union of India conferred by The Census Act 1948, as to date, State Government has not received any objection from the Union of India."

    On the other hand, Advocate Dinu Kumar, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, submitted before the Court that the state government is conducting a census in the name of survey, which is not allowed as per the constitution. He argued that a total of five hundred crore rupees are being spent on the survey, without any justification.

    It may be noted that the High Court, on May 4, while putting an interim stay on the survey in question, prima facie said that the survey amounts to a census that the State Government has no power to carry out.

    "Prima facie, we are of the opinion that the State has no power to carry out a caste-based survey, in the manner in which it is fashioned now, which would amount to a census, thus impinging upon the legislative power of the Union Parliament", the High Court said.

    The High Court Bench comprising Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Madhuresh Prasad had observed that the right to privacy is also an issue which arises in the case.

    “We also see from the notification issued that the Government intends to share data with the leaders of different parties of the State Assembly, the ruling party and opposition party which is also a matter of great concern.”


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