Caste census of backward classes difficult and cumbersome, Centre tells SCtext_fields
The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the Maharashtra government's plea seeking census data on other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the state must not be entertained as the population census is not the ideal tool for collecting details on caste. The caste census of Backward Classes is administratively difficult and cumbersome, the Centre added.
"Each time, the view has consistently been that the caste Census of Backward Classes is administratively difficult and cumbersome; it has suffered and will suffer both on account of completeness and accuracy of the data," reads the affidavit filed by the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
"The population census is not ideal instrument for collection of details on caste... there are two separate OBCs lists viz. Central list and state list. Unlike SCs and STs lists, the lists of OBCs are not exclusively central subjects," it added. Furthermore, it is not possible to collect information on the Backward Class of Citizens (BCC) in the upcoming census due to practical difficulties in determining an identification criterion for backward classes.
The affidavit further alleged that the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 survey data is unusable for official purposes. It cannot be mentioned as a source of information for population data in any official document, it said.
The affidavit was filed in response to the Maharashtra government's plea in the Supreme Court demanding the release of the 2011 census data. The state claims that the data is necessary for it to implement the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs as announced under the Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act. Without the data, it will not be possible to ensure the proportional representation of OBCs in rural BCCs in elections. However, the empirical data required for the implementation of these schemes is not available, said the Centre.
"Details available in the record of Census pertaining to caste is not reliable either for the purpose of any reservation, whether in admission, employment or elections to local authorities", the affidavit says.
"Various reasons due to the mistakes committed by the enumerators, inherent flaws in the manner of conducting Census and several such other factors, there is no reliable or dependable castes-based Census data available which can be basis of any constitutional or statutory exercise like reservation in admission, promotion or local body elections," it adds.
Opposing the plea to add questions on OBC/BCC in the questionnaire of the upcoming 2021 census, the Centre said, "Any direction from this court to Census department to include the enumeration of socio-economic data to extent relating to BCCs of rural India in the upcoming Census 2021, as prayed, would tantamount to interfering with a policy decision as framed under Section 8 of the Act."