Exclusion of any caste other than SC/ST from 2021 Census, a conscious policy decision, says Centre to Supeme Court

New Delhi [India], September 23 (ANI): The Centre has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and said the exclusion of any caste other than Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe from the purview of the upcoming 2021 Census is a “conscious policy decision” taken by Central government.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that the census of backward classes is “administratively difficult” and will suffer both on account of completeness and accuracy. The affidavit of the Central government was filed on a plea of the Maharashtra government asking to share census data of OBCs collected by the Centre in 2011-2013.
The state government has sought directions to the Centre to disclose the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011, raw caste data of Other Backward Classes and to gather data of socio-economic to the extent relating to the caste of citizens of rural India in its 2020 Census.
The Centre in the affidavit said that in such a situation any direction from Court to census department to include enumeration of Socio-Economic data to the extent relating to Backward Class Of Citizens of rural India in upcoming census 2021 as sought by the State of Maharashtra would “tantamount to interfering with a policy decision”.
It said that on January 7, 2020, the Central government had issued a notification prescribing a series of information to be collected during Census 2021 and it includes information relating to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe, it does not refer to any other caste.
The Centre added that the inaccuracy of the data is evident from the infirmities of the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 data making it unusable for any official purpose and can therefore not be mentioned as a source of information for the population data in any official document.
A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar on Thursday adjourned the matter till October 26, 2021.
The plea of Maharashtra government has sought directions to the Centre to disclose the SECC- 2011 raw caste data of Other Backward Classes, and in case they are unwilling or not in a position to do the same, permit the state to collect such empirical data regarding OBCs within the state.

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