NEW DELHI: In a setback to the Bihar government, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to allow it to continue with the caste survey in the state which was stayed by the Patna High Court in an interim order and asked the state to wait for the next hearing on July 3 in the HC.
At the outset of hearing, a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Rajesh Bindal said that there are many issues involved in the case including the issue of privacy and the HC should first decide the case and expressed its reluctance in interfering with the HC order.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the state governemnt, submitted that the HC erred in staying the process at the fag end and assured the court that the data would not be shared with anyone. He said that the survey was going on since January 7 and 80 percent of the survey has already been done and only 10 more days are needed to finish the task of data collection.
“The survey requires only 10 more days. More than three lakhs teachers, government employees and others are involved in the process and budgetary allocation has been made for it. Survey would not reflect the ground position if there is delay in completing it. Let me complete the exercise. It would not prejudice anyone,” Divan submitted.
Allaying the apprehension of violation of privacy which was also pointed out by the HC, the senior advocate said that the state would not do collation of data but collection of data should be allowed. He also assured the bench that data would neither be made public nor would be shared with anyone.
The bench, however, remained unimpressed and said that if the HC did not take up hearing on July 3 then it would hear the case a week thereafter but till then the HC interim order should hold the field. The court also questioned the state on whether the exercise conducted by it is survey or census as state government earlier communications termed it census which can be done only by Centre and not by a state.
Divan said the state was conducting a survey and not a census. Sensing the mood of the bench, the state decided not to press for an order against HC’s interim direction and agreed to wait for the next hearing in the High Court.
The HC on May 4 said that the survey was actually a census which can only be carried out by the Central government and directed that process be put on hold till July 3 when it would further hear the case.
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