New Delhi | The Central Government on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and said that the Census Act,1948, empowers only the Central Government to conduct the census.
In the affidavit filed before the top court, the Centre informed that it is committed to taking all affirmative actions for the upliftment of SCS/STS/SEBCs and OBCs in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of India and the applicable law.
Centre submitted before SC that no other body except the Union Government is entitled to conduct the exercise of either Census or any action akin to the census.
In the earlier hearing, the Bihar Government informed the Supreme Court that an exercise of conducting surveys of the caste census in Bihar was conducted by August 6.
Various petitions were moved in the Supreme Court challenging the Patna High Court judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the Bihar Government.
Among the petitioners are organisations Ek Soch Ek Prayas and Youth for Equality.
One petition was moved by Akhilesh Kumar through advocate Tanya Shree. He challenged the Patna High Court decision which dismissed pleas challenging the Nitish Kumar government's decision to conduct the survey based on castes. The order was delivered by Patna High Court on August 1.
The petitioner said that Patna HC had erroneously dismissed the said writ petition without taking into consideration the fact that the State of Bihar lacked the competence to notify caste-based survey vide notification dated June 6, 2022.
"In terms of Constitutional mandate, only the Union Government is empowered to conduct Census. In the present case, the State of Bihar has sought to usurp the powers of Union of India, by merely publishing a notification in the official gazette," the petition said.
The petitioner submitted that the notification dated June 6, 2022, is against the Constitutional mandate of distribution of powers between the State and the Union legislature as enshrined under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule VII of the Constitution and ultra vires the Census Act, 1948 read with Census Rules, 1990 and is therefore void.
"The short question of constitutional importance that arises in the present Petition is whether the Notification dated June 6, 2022, published by the State of Bihar based on the decision of the Bihar Cabinet dated June 2, 2022, to conduct Caste based Survey from its own resources and the consequent appointment of District Magistrate to supervise the same, is within the Constitutional mandate of separation of power between the State and Union?" the petition read.
The petitioner submitted that the entire exercise of conducting the Census by the State of Bihar is without authority and legislative competence and reeks of malafide.
"That the Notification dated June 6, 2022, is against the Constitutional mandate of distribution of powers between the State and the Union legislature as enshrined under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule VII of the Constitution and ultra-vires the Census Act, 1948 read with Census Rules, 1990," the petition said.
"Therefore, the Notification dated June 6th, 2022 falls foul of Articles 14, and 246 of the Constitution of India and is liable to be set aside,"' the petition added.
The petitioner claimed that the Union has the authority to conduct a Census in India and the State Government had no authority to decide and notify the conduct of a caste-based survey in the State of Bihar and the Notification dated June 6, 2022 is null and void.
Earlier Patna High Court dismissed pleas challenging the Nitish Kumar government's decision to conduct the survey based on castes.
In the survey data pertaining to people of all castes, sub-castes, socioeconomic conditions, etc would be collected.
The survey would cover an estimated population of 12.70 crores in an estimated 2.58 crore households in 38 districts, which have 534 blocks and 261 urban local bodies.