Kerala Government Asserts Limitations of Centre’s 2011 Caste Census in SEBC Identification to Supreme Court


LI Network

Published on: 30 January, 2024 at 10:00 IST

The Kerala government has responded to a contempt petition filed by the Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust, denying any deliberate non-compliance with the Supreme Court’s directive to conduct a socio-economic study for revising the reservation list for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) in the state.

The Chief Secretary of Kerala filed a counter-affidavit, contesting allegations that the union government, state government, and the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) failed to follow the court’s instructions for revising the reservation list.

The Kerala government refuted claims of intentional disobedience, explaining that it lacked the socio-economic survey report as it was not published by the central government.

The state asserted that it had requested the Centre to share the socio-economic data for identifying backward classes. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government defended its position, stating that a purported report on the Socio-Economic Caste Census, 2011, forwarded to the KSCBC chairman last year, was unhelpful in identifying socially and educationally backward classes within the state.

Highlighting its commitment to actions supporting backward classes and scheduled castes and tribes as mandated by the Constitution of India, the Kerala government questioned the maintainability of the contempt petition and urged the court to drop the proceedings, citing termination of proceedings at the special leave petition stage and subsequent dismissal of review petitions.

The legal dispute traces back to a Kerala High Court directive in September 2020, instructing the union government to finalize a socio-economic study report for identifying SEBCs in the state. Despite the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the union’s challenge in June 2021, additional time was granted for compliance.

The petitioner organization alleged non-compliance in its contempt petition, pointing to the necessity of revising the reservation list every 10 years and claiming under-representation of certain communities in Kerala public services.

In a related matter, the State of Maharashtra sought the Supreme Court’s direction for the union government to share raw census data from the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011.

The Court refused the request, acknowledging the Centre’s stance that the SECC was not intended to enumerate backward classes and was not conducted under the Census Act, 1948. The case is ongoing, with a bench headed by Justice BR Gavai issuing notice in September 2023.

Case Details: Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust v. Union of India

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