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HC Rejects Bihar Government’s Plea for Early Hearing on Caste Census

A Division Bench of the Patna High Court clarified that there is no urgency for an early hearing.
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Patna: In another setback to the Nitish Kumar government, the Patna High Court (HC) rejected its plea seeking an early hearing on the caste census, which was stayed on May 4.

A Division Bench made it clear that there is no urgency for an early hearing of the case and it would be heard on the decided date of July 3.

Bihar’s advocate general PK Shahi, who had filed an interim application in the court last Friday for an early hearing, said that the state government had the authority to conduct a caste census to know about the socio-economic conditions of the population and plan welfare schemes accordingly.

The government had also allocated specific funds in the supplementary Budget for conducting the exercise, he added.

According to officials of the General Administration Department, the nodal agency for caste census, nearly 80% work was completed and only the compilation of data remained.

Last Wednesday, a court division bench reserved its order after hearing the petition seeking an interim stay on the census. It pronounced its interim order to stay the caste census on Thursday.

The court also directed the state government to ensure the safety of the data collected and not to share it with anyone.

The JD(U) accused the opposition BJP of “creating a hurdle in the census”. Last week, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said that the caste census is “necessary and unavoidable due to people’s demand”.

Targeting the BJP, which is against the census, Yadav said, “Why is the BJP afraid of counting the majority of backward castes?” The BJP’s stand has “exposed its deviousness on the caste census and people understand it”, he added.

Similarly, Kumar asked why some people have a problem with the caste census. “We decided to conduct it because all parties unanimously supported it,” he said. The chief minister reiterated that the Assembly and Council had unanimously passed a resolution to conduct the census.

The second and final phase of the census began last month. The census is probably the first exercise, considered a significant move of the ruling alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The first phase of the survey was conducted in January.

The census is part of the alliance’s social justice agenda and will likely help consolidate its social support base by fulfilling a significant promise to OBCs and EBCs.

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