17 May 2023 6:36 AM GMT
Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Karol on Wednesday recused from hearing the petition filed by State of Bihar challenging the interim order of the Patna High Court staying Bihar Government’s decision to conduct a caste-based survey in the State.Justice Karol, who was the Chief Justice of Patna High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court on February 6, said that he had dealt with...
Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Karol on Wednesday recused from hearing the petition filed by State of Bihar challenging the interim order of the Patna High Court staying Bihar Government’s decision to conduct a caste-based survey in the State.
Justice Karol, who was the Chief Justice of Patna High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court on February 6, said that he had dealt with the matter at the High Court. The petition was listed today before a Bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sanjay Karol.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the State of Bihar, requested that liberty be given to seek urgent listing tomorrow. The bench agreed.
The High Court prima facie said that caste-based survey amounts to a census which 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 bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Madhuresh Prasad observed while saying 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.”
The matter would be heard next by the High Court on 3rd July, 2023.
The High Court’s decision came 6 days after the Supreme Court asked the Patna High Court to consider, decide and dispose of the interim application of 'Youth for Equality' (petitioner before the High Court) at the earliest, preferably within a period of 3 days of filing of the application and mentioning of the same before the Chief Justice of the High Court.
The Bihar Government launched the caste survey on 7th January, 2023. The plan is to compile data on each family digitally through a mobile application in the survey from the panchayat to the district level. The petitioner, essentially, seeks to quash the State Government’s notification on the ground that the subject of the census falls in List 1 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India and only the Union Government is contemplated to conduct the census.
The petition avers that as per the broad scheme of the Census Act 1948, only the central government has the power to make rules, appoint Census Staff, requisition premises for taking censuses, payment of compensation, power to obtain information, a delegation of functions of the Central Government with regard to requisitioning, etc.
It further argues that the Census Act of 1948 does not contemplate a caste-based census. The government notification was assailed on the ground that it "violated the basic structure of the Constitution". The petition assails State government's notification as illegal and unconstitutional and as an attempt to strike at the unity and integrity of the country and to create social disharmony among the people on caste lines for petty vote bank politics.
[Case Title: State of Bihar And Ors. v. Youth for Equality And Ors. SLP(C) No. 10404/2023]