SC to hear Maharashtra's plea to disclose 2011 Socio-Economic and Caste Census data on Dec 13text_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday said it would hear on December 13 a plea filed by the Maharashtra government seeking direction to the Union government and other authorities to disclose to the state the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 raw caste data of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) which has not been made available to them despite repeated demands.
The Union government had in September this year filed an affidavit in the matter in the apex court saying Caste Census of Backward Classes is administratively difficult and cumbersome" and excluding such information from the purview of Census is a "conscious policy decision".
The government had said in its affidavit that caste enumeration in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 was fraught with mistakes and inaccuracies.
The plea came up for hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar. The counsel appearing for Maharashtra told the bench that they have filed a rejoinder in the matter.
The bench observed that an affidavit has been filed and it has said that the data is unusable.
We have filed a rejoinder and we have pointed out that this is not correct, the counsel appearing for Maharashtra said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Government, said the matter requires a hearing as The Census Act will have to be examined.
The counsel representing Maharashtra said there was some urgency in the matter.
The bench, while posting the plea for hearing on December 13, asked the apex court registry to circulate the rejoinder affidavit filed by the state.
Besides this plea, two other petitions related to the issue came up for hearing before the bench. The top court asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was representing the petitioners in the fresh pleas, to serve the copy of the petitions to the standing counsel for Maharashtra as well as the state election commission.
The bench posted these petitions for hearing on December 6.
The government's affidavit, filed in the top court by the secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, had said the Centre has already issued a notification in January last year prescribing the series of information to be collected during Census 2021 and it covers many areas including the information relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but does not refer to any other category of caste.
The affidavit further said that enumeration of OBCs/BCCs (Backward Class of Citizens) has been always adjudged to be administratively extremely complex and even when Census of castes were taken in the pre-independence period, the data suffered in respect of completeness and accuracy.
The Centre had also said that SECC 2011 survey was not on the 'OBC survey' as alleged, but a comprehensive exercise to enumerate the caste status of all households in the country, as per their statement.
The affidavit said, The caste data has not been disclosed and has been kept with the Office of the Registrar General, India (ORGI) for various reasons, but primarily for the technical flaws that were noticed in the raw caste/tribe SECC data which makes it unusable as explained hereinafter.
It had also said that so far as caste data is concerned, a caste-wise enumeration in the Census has been given up as a matter of policy from 1951 onwards and thus, the castes other than the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have not been enumerated in any of the Census since 1951 till today.