The Supreme Court on Friday (20 January) refused to entertain pleas filed against the Bihar government for conducting a caste census and termed them ‘publicity interest litigations’.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath was hearing three petitions on the issue filed by an NGO "Ek Soch Ek Prayas" and two individuals Akhilesh Kumar and Vishnu Gupta.
The apex court asked the petitioners why they did not approach the high court for remedies and asked them to go and file it before the appropriate high court. It dismissed all the pleas as withdrawn, granting them ‘liberty to seek appropriate remedies in law’.
The Bihar government issued a notification on 6 January 2023 regarding the caste census. The petition had sought to quash the notification on the ground that the subject of census falls in "List 1" of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, thus giving the power to conduct a census only to the Union.
The petition said that a central legislation was needed for holding a caste census and states cannot go about it on their own. It said the notification was violative of the right to equality before law and holding a caste census was against the basic structure of the Constitution.
They submitted that the government is under a Constitutional obligation to eradicate caste-based discrimination and to build a casteless society and there is no provision in the Constitution regarding caste configurations.
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