10 April 2022 3:17 PM GMT
The Supreme Court is set to hear a Writ Petition seeking directions for a caste-based census for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the 16th Indian Census, which is scheduled to be taken up this year. The plea moved by petitioner-in-person, Krishan Kanhaya Pal, a practicing advocate at the Allahabad High Court, has been listed for tomorrow before the bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao...
The Supreme Court is set to hear a Writ Petition seeking directions for a caste-based census for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the 16th Indian Census, which is scheduled to be taken up this year.
The plea moved by petitioner-in-person, Krishan Kanhaya Pal, a practicing advocate at the Allahabad High Court, has been listed for tomorrow before the bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B. R. Gavai. Though the plea was moved last year, the same has been listed for the first hearing tomorrow.
The petitioner, who belongs to the 'Gaderia' caste which comes under the OBC category, had stated in his petitioner that a caste-based census of the OBCs is of 'vital necessity'.
"It is absurd to think that caste can be eradicated and social harmony achieved only if we do not count castes. Indeed, we must come to terms with the fact that caste by its nature is anti-social (as Ambedkar has rightly suggested), and no social cohesion can be achieved without destroying its edifices. How long do we want to live with the wishful thinking that caste will disappear if we do not count it or discuss it publicly?," the plea submits.
The averments in the plea
At the outset, the plea states that the Central Government and State Governments in India are introducing and implementing multiple schemes i.e. education and employment, and participation in economic and political sectors for the socio-politicoeconomic development of backward classes.
The plea further avers that for such schemes, the budget is being allocated by the central and State Governments, however, the plea adds, the governments are unable to share the benefits with all sections among backward classes due to a lack of caste-based survey.
Against this backdrop, the plea emphasizes that caste-based census of the backward classes has become imperative so as to implement reservations in education and employment sectors, Panchayat Raj, and Municipal elections.
The plea argues that the Central and State Governments are facing several issues in deciding the percentage of reservations for backward castes proportionate to their population.
"Concrete policies cannot be formulated in the absence of concrete data. If the wealth of the nation is divided across caste lines, we need to have accurate data about the population of various caste groups and their socio-economic status, only then can we move towards addressing these issues which are necessary for the overall and holistic growth of our nation," the plea argues.
Significantly, the plea terms it as ironic that the suffering, pain, and everyday oppression of thousands of castes are neither acknowledged nor registered by the very regime which is deeply obsessed with what we eat, think, speak, and who are the authentic citizens.
Consequently, the plea adds, that not counting the exact socio-economic and educational conditions of castes is nothing short of a scandal.
"The political establishment has sent confusing signals"
Stating that the current political establishment has sent confusing signals over the issue, the plea states that in response to a question in Parliament, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had said last year that the government had decided to not conduct a caste-wise enumeration of the population, except in the case of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
However, in contrast, the plea further states, that the BJP National General Secretary Dushyant Gautam had told a news portal that the demand for a caste-based census was very much in the BJP's mind, and when the right time arrives, the government would consider it.
The plea further adds that despite the announcement made by the then Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh in 2018, that there would be a census of the OBC population during the 2021 Census, however, the government refrained from tabling the report of the Rohini Commission that was established in 2017.
Interestingly, the plea claims that the majority of society's mainstream media and opinion-makers are trying their best to delegitimise the rationality of caste-based census. Further, averring that the opponents of caste enumeration lack any novel argument, the Plea states thus:
"They are replicating the same fear psychosis that it will breed casteism, divide society, and increase the existing caste-based quotas, which has been used against every other progressive measure centred around caste."
Against this backdrop, the plea concludes by praying that a direction be issued to respondents no 2 (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) and 3 (The Chairman, National Commission for Backward Classes) for conducting the caste-wise census for backward castes in 2021/2022 census.
Case title - Krishan Kanhaya Pal v. Union Of India and Ors