Hours after the Centre submitted to the Supreme Court that only it is empowered to conduct a census under the relevant law as the subject falls under the Union list of the Constitution and no other body is entitled to conduct the exercise, the Central government withdrew the affidavit claiming that the paragraph "inadverdently crept in."
The Centre submitted a second affidavit, retaining the submission that census is a statutory process governed by the Census Act of 1948, which empowers only the Central Government to conduct the census under section 3 of the Act. The Centre also stated: The central government is committed to taking all affirmative actions for the upliftment of Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of India and the applicable law."
What did the Centre say in its earlier affidavit?
In its earlier affidavit, the Centre submitted that “no other body (except the Centre) under the Constitution or otherwise is entitled to conduct the exercise of either census or any action akin to the census". However, in a fresh affidavit filed in late in the evening, the Centre claimed that the above-mentioned paragraph had “inadvertently crept in” and that the Centre wanted to withdraw it.
The Centre's revised stance comes at a time when several petitions have been filed with the top court challenging the Patna High Court's order, which dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Bihar caste survey. Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for NGO 'Youth for Equality' which is challenging the survey, had submitted that the exercise was an infringement of people's right to privacy.
The high court had said in its 101-page verdict, "We find the action of the state to be perfectly valid, initiated with due competence with the legitimate aim of providing development with justice."