The Patna High Court on Thursday put an interim stay on the caste-based survey being conducted by the Bihar government.
A division bench of Chief Justice Vinod Chandran and Justice Madhuresh Kumar, after hearing the writ petition, passed the interim order and directed the government to stop any further survey.
The state government has also been asked to preserve the data related to caste-based census and not distribute it to anyone.
Abhinav Srivastava, the lawyer of the petitioner, argued that the Bihar government has no right to conduct a caste-based survey as it neither a legislative competence nor an executive order to sustain under Article 162 of the Constitution.
The petitioner also said that the survey is actually a census and the power to carry out such a survey is exclusively with the Union government.
As per the order, the bench said: “We are of the considered opinion that the petitioners have made out a prima facie case against the continuation process of the proposed caste-based survey as attempted by the state of Bihar. There is a question raised on data integrity and security which has to be more elaborately addressed by the state.”
“We also have the opinion that the state has no power to carry out caste-based surveys in a manner it is fashioned now. It would amount to a census thus impinging upon the legislative power of the Parliament.
“We also see the notification that the government intends to share data with the leaders of different political parties of the state Assembly. The bigger question arises here is the right of privacy which the Supreme Court has held to be a facet of right to life,” it added.
“In such circumstances, we have directed the state government to immediately stop the caste-based survey and ensure that the data already collected are secured and not to share with anybody till final orders on this writ petition,” the bench said, listing the next hearing on July 3.