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SC defers hearing on pleas challenging Patna HC’s order on caste-based survey in Bihar

SC defers hearing on pleas challenging Patna HC’s order on caste-based survey in Bihar. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on a batch of petitions against Patna High Court’s order dismissing pleas challenging the caste-based survey in Bihar.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and S.V.N. Bhatti directed that all similar special leave petitions will be re-listed for hearing on August 18.

During a short hearing, it was contended that the matter will become infructuous, as the Bihar government had issued notification on August 1 to complete the remainder of the survey process within three days.

The Supreme Court maintained that it is not to pass any interim stay order in the matter to halt the survey process, which was resumed by the state government following the high court verdict.

It also refused to entertain the prayer made from the petitioner’s side that survey results may not be published till the matter is pending adjudication before the apex court.

The bench said: “That will be an indirect stay without hearing the other side or application of mind. On August 18, we will hear you out.”

The special leave petitions filed before the Supreme Court said that only the Union of India has the authority to conduct Census in India and the state government had no authority to decide and notify the conduct of caste-based survey in Bihar.

The pleas argued that the state legislatures do not have any power to legislate in relation to taking of Census either under Schedule VII of the Constitution or under the various statutory provisions, because only the Union has the power to legislate in relation to Census as it is an Entry at 69 of List 1 (Union List).

In its decision passed on August 1, the Patna High Court, while dismissing the batch of pleas, gave a green signal to the Nitish Kumar-led state government’s decision to conduct the survey.

Earlier, the high court had ordered an interim stay on the survey which had started on January 7 this year and was scheduled to be completed on May 15.

Pertinently, 80 per cent of the work was completed when the caste-based survey was stayed by an interim direction of the Patna High Court on May 4.

“We find the action of the state to be perfectly valid, initiated with due competence, with the legitimate aim of providing ‘Development with Justice’,” said the high court later while dismissing the batch of pleas.

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