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KEY TAKEWAYS

  • The exclusion of any caste other than Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe from purview of Census is a conscious policy decision taken by Central Government
  • Sharing of census data of OBCs collected by Centre upon direction from Court to include enumeration of Socio-Economic data to extent relating to Backward Class of Citizens (BCCs) of Rural India in Upcoming Census 2021 as prayed by the State of Maharashtra, in the present case, would tantamount to interfering with a policy decision.

MAHARASTRA GOVERNMENT’S PLEA

  • A petition by the state government of Maharashtra was filed which sought the release of the caste census data for the year 2011.
  • It asked for the release of the 2011 caste census data for implementing 27% reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) announced under the Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act.

CENTRE’S RESPONSE

  • The central government responded by saying that the 2011 caste census was conducted with grave irregularities, is not admissible or useful for any purpose. Moreover it is against collecting information on castes and backward classes other than SC AND STs during the upcoming population census in 2022.
  • The affidavit filed by centre cited several factors, including the flawed methodology of the census, as well as the inadequate data available, to say that the caste-based census data is not reliable enough to be used for any statutory exercise.
  • The government refused to collect data on backward class during the upcoming census. It said the administratively complex exercise is against the government's policy decision.
  • The ministry of social justice and empowerment, filed an affidavit stating that the caste data collected during the 2011 census was kept secret due to the technical issues related to it. The data was primarily used to identify the poor households and implement anti-poverty programs.
  • In 2011, the government's data revealed that over 4.5 million caste names were not classified or categorized into the appropriate classes. The Centre also warned that the forthcoming census would pose various challenges to the authenticity of information.

COURT’S OBSERVATION

  • The Supreme Court on March 4 held that the 27% OBC quota cannot be implemented in the elections of local bodies in Maharashtra since the state did not provide any empirical data.
  • The Court also held that the total percentage of reservations in local bodies should not exceed 50% as mandated by the Supreme Court.
  • The state government filed new petition in Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Central census data, without which representation of backward classes in the elections would not be possible.
  • The state government has also demanded that the Centre should collect data census in 2022. Court refused both the prayers.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. Here are a few questions for you, let us know your answers in the comments section-

  • Who does census in India?
  • Who is the present Census Commissioner of India?
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