SC rejects Maharashtra's plea to direct Centre to disclose data on OBCs as per 2011 caste census

New Delhi, Dec 15 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea filed by the Maharashtra government seeking a direction to the Centre and other authorities to disclose to the state “the raw caste data of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)” obtained from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011.
A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar noted the affidavit filed by the Centre before it emphatically stated that the data of SECC 2011 is not accurate and unusable.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the SECC 2011 data is absolutely unreliable as several infirmities were found in it.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Maharashtra, told the bench that the Centre cannot claim before the Supreme court that the data is full of errors as the government had told a Parliamentary committee that the data was 98.87 percent error-free.
The bench, while rejecting the petition, said the state is at liberty to pursue other remedies available under the law.
The Centre had on Tuesday told the apex court that the SECC 2011 is “not” an OBC data and it was not made public as it was found to be flawed, and bound to mislead .
Mehta had argued that no reliance can be placed on the SECC 2011, not only for reservation but also for employment, education and other purposes.
The Centre had in September this year filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying caste Census of Backward Classes is administratively difficult and cumbersome and excluding such information from the purview of Census is a “conscious policy decision”.
The government had said in its affidavit, filed by the secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, that caste enumeration in the SECC 2011 was fraught with mistakes and inaccuracies.
It had claimed that the Centre had already issued a notification in January last year prescribing the series of information to be collected during Census 2021 and it covers many areas including the information relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but does not refer to any other category of caste.
The Centre had also said that the SECC 2011 survey was not on the OBCs as alleged, but a comprehensive exercise to enumerate the caste status of all households in the country, as per their statement.