The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the Bihar government’s decision to conduct a caste survey in the state, The New Indian Express reported.
Terming the plea as “publicity interest litigation”, a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath asked the petitioner to approach the Patna High Court instead.
The first phase of the caste-based survey in Bihar began on January 7.
The survey, which will also record the economic status of families, is estimated to provide socio-economic data for a population of 12.70 crores in the 38 districts of Bihar.
The petitions in the Supreme Court were filed by a non-governmental organisation ‘Ek Soch Ek Prayas’, an organisation named the Hindu Sena, and Bihar resident Akhilesh Kumar.
They argued that the notification to conduct a caste census is discriminatory and unconstitutional. In its plea, Hindu Sena had also contended that the Bihar government wants to break the integrity and unity of India by conducting a caste census, according to NDTV.
On Friday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Some people were trying to stop it,” Kumar said, according to the television channel. “They have been proven wrong.”
On June 2, the Bihar Cabinet had cleared a proposal to carry out a caste-based survey in the state.
India had last conducted an exercise to count the population of all caste groups in 1931. In independent India, census reports have published data noting the population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but not other caste groups.
On September 23, the Union government had told the Supreme Court that a country-wide caste census would be “administratively difficult”.
Three days later, Kumar had urged the Centre to reconsider its position on undertaking a caste census. On August 23, Kumar had also led a delegation of 10 political parties from Bihar to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press for the caste census.