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Only Central Govt empowered to undertake census, Centre tells Supreme Court [Read Affidavit]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      29 August, 2023 05:38 PM      0 Comments
Only Central Govt empowered to undertake census, Centre tells Supreme Court [Read Affidavit]

NEW DELHI: The Centre has on August 28 told the Supreme Court that only the central government was statutorily empowered to conduct census in the country or any part of it.

The stand by the Centre in a case related to Bihar's caste census is crucial in view of demands and promise by Opposition parties particularly of Congress for undertaking such an exercise to suitably amend the welfare measures for SC/ST and OBCs.

In an affidavit, the central government claimed, no other body under the Constitution or otherwise is entitled to conduct the exercise of either census or any action akin to it.

However, this statement was withdrawn in a fresh affidavit by Monday evening in the Supreme Court. The government claimed the statement has "inadvertently crept" in the previous affidavit.

The Ministry of Home Affairs' office of Registrar General first said, "It is submitted no other body under the Constitution or otherwise is entitled to conduct the exercise of either Census or any action akin to census."

However, by the fresh affidavit stated, "the central government has filed an affidavit in the morning today. In the said affidavit, inadvertently, para 5 has crept in. The said affidavit, therefore, stands withdrawn and this present affidavit will be the affidavit on behalf of the central government."

The central government still maintained that census is a statutory process and is governed by the Census Act, 1948.

"The subject of Census is covered in the Union List under Entry 69 in the Seventh Schedule. In exercise of the powers under the said Entry, the central government has made the Census Act, 1948. The said Act empowers only the central government to conduct the census under section 3 of the Census Act, 1948," it said.

The Ministry said the central government is committed to take all affirmative actions for upliftment of SCs/STs/SEBCs and OBCs in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the applicable law.

On August 21, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought permission from the Supreme Court to file an affidavit in the issue of caste survey undertaken by the Bihar government, saying it would have consequences.

On June 6, 2022, the Bihar government decided to conduct a caste census in the state. The Patna High Court on August 1 found the exercise as perfectly valid, intended with the legitimate aim of providing ‘development with justice’.

The SC is examining appeal against the HC's judgement on a batch of petitions.

[Read Affidavit] 



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