SC refuses to restrain Bihar govt from publishing further data from caste survey

he Supreme Court Friday refused to restrain the Bihar government from publishing further data from its caste survey, saying it cannot stop the state from taking any policy decision.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and S V N Bhatti issued a formal notice on a batch of pleas challenging the August 1 order of the Patna High Court that gave the go-ahead for the caste survey in Bihar. It listed the matter in January, 2024.

The top court rejected the objections of the petitioners that the state government has preempted the stay order by publishing some data and demanded that a complete stay should be ordered on further publication of data.

“We are not staying anything at this moment. We cannot stop the state govt or any govt from taking a policy decision. That would be wrong We are going to examine the other issue regarding the power of the state govt to conduct this exercise,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Aprajita Singh, appearing for the petitioners, said there is breach of privacy in the matter and the High Court order is wrong.

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To this, the bench said since the name and other identities of any individual have not been published, therefore the argument that there was a breach of privacy may not be correct.

“The more important issue for consideration of the court is breakdown of data and its availability to the public,” the bench said.

On October 2, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar released findings of its caste survey, months ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary elections. The data revealed that OBCs and EBCs constitute a whopping 63 per cent of the state’s total population.

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