The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 11, agreed to examine a plea seeking to quash the Bihar government's decision to conduct a caste survey in the state, on Friday. The petition has been filed by Akhilesh Kumar, a social worker from Nalanda, contending that this decision fell under the domain of the Union government. The bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and also comprising Justice P.S. Narasimha, allowed a plea for listing of the matter.
The plea sought to quash the notification issued by the Deputy Secretary, government of Bihar, in connection with the caste survey, and to refrain the authorities concerned from conducting the exercise. It added that there is no provision in the Constitution regarding caste configuration. The plea, which has been drawn by advocate Barun Kumar Sinha, argued that the move was also against the basic structure of the Constitution, besides being "illegal, arbitrary, irrational, discriminatory, and unconstitutional".
The plea further contended that according to Section 3 of the Census Act, 1948, the Union government is empowered to take census in the whole or any part of the territory of India. The plea added that the scheme of the Census Act establishes that caste census is not contemplated in the law and the state government has no legal authority to conduct caste census.
The plea claimed that the notification dated June 6, 2022, violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before the law and equal protection of the law. "The state government by executive orders cannot conduct caste census in the absence of legislation on the subject. The impugned notification for caste census in the State of Bihar lacks statutory flavour and constitutional sanction," it said.