Patna Court rejects early plea

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Patna High Court Rejects State Government’s Plea for Early Hearing on Caste Enumeration.

The Patna High Court, on May 9, dismissed the State government’s petitions seeking an early hearing on the caste enumeration and economic survey in Bihar. The division bench, headed by Chief Justice K.V. Chandran, upheld the previous hearing date of July 3, 2023, for these matters.

Earlier, on May 4, the High Court had issued an interim stay order on the ongoing caste-based survey and directed the State government to refrain from sharing or using the collected data. In response, the government filed a petition requesting an expedited hearing of the case. However, the court rejected the plea, emphasizing that the executive does not possess the authority to conduct a caste survey and that the privacy of the public is violated by such surveys.

The Bihar government was in the process of conducting the second phase of its caste-based survey, which had commenced on April 15 and was scheduled for completion by May 15. The court instructed that the data collected thus far be secured without public disclosure.

In its petition, the State government contended that the court had already provided a final decision on the issues raised in the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) and, therefore, requested that the petitions be heard and executed before July 3. However, the court dismissed the government’s plea and maintained the scheduled hearing date.

Representatives from both the petitioners’ side, including advocates Dinu Kumar, Ritika Rani, and Abhinav Srivastava, and the State government, represented by Advocate General P.K. Shahi, presented their arguments before the court.

Following the court’s decision, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the Nitish Kumar-led government, deeming it a failure for failing to convince the court. The BJP further called for Nitish Kumar’s resignation.

Advocate Dinu Kumar, speaking to The Hindu, mentioned that the Bihar government had requested permission from the court to proceed with the caste-based survey while assuring that the collected data would not be shared. However, the court rejected this plea, noting that granting permission would imply reconsidering its earlier order, which it was unwilling to do.

With the State Government’s plea being rejected, the Nitish Kumar government can now approach the Supreme Court with a fresh application to challenge the High Court’s order.

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