NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the Census Act, 1948, empowers only the Union government to conduct the census and that no other body is entitled to conduct an exercise even akin to a census.
The affidavit was filed by the Office of the Registrar General from the Union home ministry in response to a batch of pleas challenging the caste-based survey in Bihar.

In the affidavit, the Centre said it is committed to taking all affirmative actions for the upliftment of SCS/STS/SEBCs and OBCs in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of India and the applicable law.

During an earlier hearing, the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar had informed the SC that an exercise of conducting surveys of the caste census in Bihar was conducted by August 6.
Various petitions were moved in the apex court challenging the Patna high court’s judgement upholding the caste survey ordered by the Bihar government.

Various petitioners said the Patna HC had erroneously dismissed the writ petition against the survey without taking into consideration the fact that the State of Bihar lacked the competence to notify caste-based survey vide notification dated June 6, 2022.

“In terms of Constitutional mandate, only the Union government is empowered to conduct Census. In the present case, the State of Bihar has sought to usurp the powers of Union of India, by merely publishing a notification in the official gazette,” the petition said.
War of words
The ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United and the Congress, lashed out at the BJP saying the Centre’s opposition to the state government’s caste survey has exposed the double-standard of the National Democratic Alliance.
JD(U) chief spokesman and MLC Neeraj Kumar said, “The Prime Minister had said that the state government might carry it out on its own. But the way the central government is opposing the caste census clearly demonstrates the BJP’s desperation to keep the actual status of the scheduled castes, backward classes and other deprived sections under wraps.”
RJD chief spokesman Shakti Singh Yadav alleged that the BJP has been against the caste-based enumeration since the beginning, as outcome of the survey would expose the Centre’s lop-sided development policy.
BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi said: “Anyone is free to conduct surveys and collect data. The BJP is saying that this is a survey and not a census. Patna HC said the same thing that the State has the right to conduct a survey and not a census … BJP filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court according to the stand they had in Bihar. I hope that the Supreme Court will soon give its judgement in support of caste census like the Bihar High Court. We are in favour of caste census.”
(With inputs from agencies)


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