The Supreme Court today refused to entertain requests against the caste survey in Bihar. Calling it "publicity interest litigation", the court questioned why didn't the petitioners go to Patna High Court in this matter. Three petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against the caste headcount -- one by an organisation called Ek Soch Ek Prayas, right wing outfit Hindu Sena, and a Bihar resident called Akhilesh Kumar.
"So this is a publicity interest litigation. How can we issue directions on how much reservation should be granted to such and such caste. Sorry, we can't issue such directions and can't entertain these petitions", the bench, comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath, told the counsel for petitioners.
Notably, this issue was already heard in the Patna High Court when the petitioner's contention that the state is conducting a caste-based census was rejected on the ground that the official notification in this regard says it's a caste based 'survey'.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed the court's decision. "Some people were trying to stop it. They have been proven wrong," he said.
Hindu Sena has said in its petition that the Bihar government wants to "break the integrity and unity of India" by conducting a caste census.
There has been a demand to cancel the notification issued by the state government on June 6 for the caste survey in Bihar.
Akhilesh Kumar's petition states that the official notification and the process are "illegal, arbitrary, irrational, unconstitutional and without authority of law".
"The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and caste. The state is under a constitutional obligation to eliminate caste strife and racial strife," the petition said.
The petition also questions whether the Constitution of India has given the state government the right to conduct census on the basis of caste.
Seven questions have been raised in this petition before the Supreme Court.
- Is the Bihar government taking action to conduct caste census a violation of the basic structure of the constitution?
- Does the Constitution of India give the state government the right to conduct caste census?
- Is the notification issued by the Deputy Secretary to the Government of Bihar on June 6 against the Census Act 1948?
- Is the notification of caste census, in the absence of law, legally valid?
- Is the state government's decision to conduct caste census supported by all political parties?
- Is the decision of political parties on caste census binding on the government for Bihar?
- Is the Bihar government's notification of June 6 against the Supreme Court's constitution bench's decision in the Abhiram Singh case?
On January 11, the top court had said that it would take up the matter on January 20, after one of the petitioners mentioned an urgent listing of the matter.