Patna High Court Orders Resumption of Caste-Based Survey in Bihar

Following a directive from the Patna High Court, the caste-based survey has been reinstated across the entirety of Bihar. The original survey was initiated by Patna District Magistrate Chandrashekhar in Ward 10, Phulwarisharif, Patna. Notably, there are approximately 13.69 lakh families in Patna, with 9.35 lakh individuals already surveyed; the pending households are expected to undergo survey within the upcoming week.

Initially halted on May 4th via an interim order, the caste survey was put on hold due to concerns about the state government’s competence in conducting such an initiative. However, the Patna High Court, on Tuesday, upheld its prior decision to proceed with the survey throughout Bihar, dismissing multiple petitions challenging the government’s authority. This verdict has effectively granted the Bihar Government permission to continue the survey.

Originally intended to occur in two phases with a conclusion in May, the first phase concluded in January of this year and included a household enumeration exercise. The second phase, which began on April 15th, was set to conclude in May. This stage aimed to gather data on individuals’ caste and socio-economic conditions.

Critics contend that executing a caste-based survey reinforces the perception that an individual’s identity is primarily determined by their caste. Categorizing people based on their caste, they argue, carries the risk of perpetuating caste divisions. Rather than emphasizing shared common identities, a caste-based survey might exacerbate caste-related distinctions, potentially deepening societal polarization.