SC dismisses Maha govt’s plea to direct Centre to share Raw Caste Census Data of SECC 2011

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Maharashtra government seeking a direction to the Central government to disclose raw data pertaining to the 2011 Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC). In light of the submission that the data was not accurate or usable, the Bench of Justices AM 4Khanwilkar and CT Ravi Kumar held the decision.

The Maharashtra government had invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court after deciding to conduct a Socio-Economic and Caste Census across the State through the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC).

The State Legislative Assembly had this year passed a resolution in the House to approach the Centre for 2011 census data in order to compile empirical data on the OBC population in the State. The 2011 census data has not been released till date by the Centre, citing errors.

The Centre had issued a notification on January 7, 2020 prescribing information to be collected for the upcoming 2021 census which includes information relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but does not refer to any other category of caste. The exclusion of information regarding any other caste for the upcoming census is a “conscious policy decision” taken by the government, the Centre had said.

In an affidavit filed recently, the Centre thus urged the top court to not issue any directions to the Census Department to include enumeration of socio-economic data pertaining to Backward Classes, since it would tantamount to interfering with a policy decision as framed under Section 8 of the SC-ST Act.

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