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Supreme Court Upheld Central Government’s Power to Conduct Caste Based Census

SUP PHOTO1The Supreme Court held recently that the census notification publicized by the Central Government which authorized that the details of only the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes shall be collected was justified. The Bench consisted of Justice R F Nariman, Justice Deepak Misra and Justice U U Lalit who upheld the decision of the centre that deals with caste based census. Two years before, the Madras High Court issued direction to conduct caste based census from the beginning as the last census was carried out in 1931. The hon’ble Apex Court set aside the direction of the High Court and pointed out that it is remarkably debatable and the power of judicial review have immensely contravened.

Advocate R S Suri appeared before the Supreme Court for the Government and raised the argument that the policy decisions of the Government specifies for conducting census that consists of SC and ST but excludes other castes. He also stated that other High Courts had dismissed the petitions and the Apex Court has refused to impede in the census mandates of the Government. He further said that the census measures only the SC and ST population. In this regard, hon’ble Justice Misra affirmed that the High Court directive to the census department to conduct caste wise census all over the country immediately was hard to think about. The High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction and had gone through an emotional viewpoint which cannot be permitted legally.

The Court exceeded its limits when adjudicating whether a specific policy was appropriate in the present situation or there contains any enhanced policy as a substitute. The Court has the authority to interfere only if the policy formulated was entirely impulsive or it was made in violation of Article 14 that guarantees right to equality under the Constitution of India. In 2012, the High Court was of the opinion that the Government should conduct caste based census as from 1931 the population of SC, ST and OBC had increased. Hence there was a need to conduct census to ascertain the percentage of reservation for the weaker sections of the community.