New Delhi, August 21: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Union government a period of one week to file its reply to the batch of pleas challenging the caste-based survey in Bihar.
"I am for the Central government. There are ramifications. I am not on this side or the other. I want to place on record my submissions,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and S.V.N Bhatti.
The bench reiterated that it will not pass any interim direction requiring the Bihar government to abstain from publishing the results of the caste-based survey.
“We will not stay the survey unless a prima facie case is made out," the bench told the petitioners, who have filed special leave petitions against the Patna High Court’s order dismissing pleas challenging the caste-based survey in Bihar.
The clutch of pleas has been adjourned for hearing to August 28.
Notably, the caste-based survey in Bihar has been completed and is expected to be out in the public domain soon.
Earlier, the petitioners had argued that the survey process violated the privacy law and only the Union government had the authority to conduct Census in India and the state government had no authority to decide and notify the conduct of caste-based survey in Bihar.
The Supreme Court had said that publication of data will not affect individual’s privacy as data of individuals will not come up, but cumulative breakup or analysis of the entire data will be published.
The top court had repeatedly refused to pass any interim order staying the survey process, though it was contended that the pleas will become infructuous after the state government had issued notification on August 1 to complete the remainder of the survey process within three days.
In its order passed on August 1, the Patna High Court, while dismissing the batch of pleas, had given green signal to the Nitish Kumar-led state government’s decision to conduct the survey. The Bihar government resumed the process on the same day following the high court verdict.
Earlier, the high court had ordered an interim stay on the survey which had started on January 7 this year and was scheduled to be completed by May 15.
“We find the action of the state to be perfectly valid, initiated with due competence, with the legitimate aim of providing ‘Development with Justice’,” the high court said later while dismissing the batch of pleas.