CM Nitish Kumar said caste enumeration is being done as per the will of people. (PTI)
The petitioner had put forth arguments to prove caste enumeration as unconstitutional, whereas the government side called it a necessity
The Patna High Court will on Thursday give its verdict on the caste census in Bihar. The court heard the matter for two days after which the bench of Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran reserved the decision.
The petitioner had put forth arguments to prove caste enumeration as unconstitutional, whereas the government side called it a necessity. It was argued on behalf of the government that it would be easier to plan for the deprived and economically backward via a caste census.
Experts say the government is a welfare organisation. The complete calculation from the cabinet has been approved to spend Rs 500 crore, but it has not been given a legal form. In such a situation, the calculation can be stopped by considering this amount as unnecessary.
In fact, on April 24, this matter was taken up in the Supreme Court which asked the petitioner to approach the Patna High Court.
High Court Hearing: Day One
The first hearing in the caste enumeration case was to be held on Monday, but the high court adjourned it to Tuesday as the counter affidavit filed by the government was not on record. On Tuesday, Supreme Court advocate Aparajita Singh and high court advocate Dinu Kumar were to present arguments to declare caste enumeration unconstitutional.
High Court Hearing: Day Two
The first hearing in the Patna High Court was held on Tuesday with a debate on caste enumeration. Advocate General PK Shahi presented his side on behalf of the government as the court asked about the purpose of conducting the caste survey and if any law has been made regarding this.
In reply, PK Shahi said it was decided to conduct the caste survey by passing a unanimous resolution in both the Houses. In view of the same, the cabinet gave its stamp on conducting the survey. This is a policy decision of the state government, he said, adding that a provision has been made in the budget for this.
The petitioner’s lawyer, however, asked about the purpose and benefits of caste enumeration. Lawyer Dinu Kumar said: “There is talk of spending Rs 500 crore on this but what will be the result and who would be benefited?”
Quoting Article 37 of the Constitution, while defending the government, Shahi said it is the constitutional duty of the state government to get information about its citizens so that the benefits of welfare schemes can be extended to them.
He said no state is untouched by caste. “The Mungerilal Commission was formed earlier for information on castes. The calculation by the Bihar government is constitutional.”
High Court Hearing: Day Three
On Wednesday, Shahi called the survey necessary to take the schemes of the Bihar government to the deprived sections.
He said the government did not have any data of the economically weaker sections and hence caste data was necessary. He also argued that the exercise was not caste census but a caste-based economic survey.
The petitioner’s advocate, however, called the decision politically motivated. In response, the Advocate General said every government works under politics. “It is for vote bank. Every state and central government plans for the vote bank only. The actions of any government cannot be said to be away from the vote bank,” he said. The court had reserved the decision after hearing the arguments of both the sides.
CM Nitish Kumar Defends Caste-Based Survey
While talking to the media, chief minister Nitish Kumar said: “Caste enumeration is not the decision of any one person. The decision has been taken unanimously in the House. Caste enumeration is being done as per the will of people. If anybody has trouble with this survey, it is beyond comprehension. After survey is done, information about the status of every person is taken in the census. If there is information about the economic condition of all sections, then where is the loss? Everyone will benefit from this in the days to come.”
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