The Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Patna High Court’s order to stay the ongoing caste-based survey. The state government’s appeal before the SC stated that the high court erroneously examined the merits of the case at the interim stage and touched upon the legislative competence of the state.
Earlier this week, the HC had rejected the state’s plea for an early hearing in the case. The division bench of Chief Justice KV Chandran had said the hearing will take place on July 3. “The state has already completed more than 80% of the survey work; in some districts, less than 10% of the work is pending. The entire machinery is at the ground level and there is no harm in completing the exercise, subject to final adjudication of the dispute. The time gap to complete the survey will adversely affect it since this will not be contemporaneous data… The stay on the collection of data itself will cause a huge loss to the state since finally the action of the state is upheld, the state will be required to put logistics in place with additional expenditure…,” the plea stated.
It further stated that the collection of caste-based data is a constitutional mandate under articles 15 and 16 apart from other provisions as explained in the counter-affidavit of the state. “The provisions of the Act can be effectively implemented only when the state has data based on caste,” stated the special leave petition (SLP) by the government, filed through advocate-on-record Manish Kumar.
“The 105th constitutional amendment reaffirms the power of the state for identification of caste under Article 342A. This can be achieved if the state has contemporaneous data on caste in the state,” the SLP submitted.
The state government has also challenged the findings of the Patna HC that its survey amounts to a census. The SLP said the power of the state to carry out such a survey is traceable to various entries of List III, Part 3 and Part 4 of the Constitution.
With inputs from News18