The Supreme Court on Friday rescued the Centre from the prospect of carrying out a caste-based census :an exercise that could have led to a controversial reworking of quotas for other backward classes.
The Madras high court had two years ago in a service matter ordered a fresh caste-based census, more than 80 years after it was last conducted in 1931.
Given the potential for social strife in a castebased census, the Centre had rushed to the SC challenging the HC order.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra, R F Nariman and U U Lalit upheld its contention and said the central census notification mandated collection of information only relating to SCs and STs and not other castes.
Appearing for the Centre, senior advocate R S Suri had argued that policy stipulates for carrying out the census which includes SC and ST, but not other castes.
He had said other HCs had dismissed similar petitions and that even the SC had declined to interfere in census modalities.
Justice Misra, writing the judgment for the bench, said:In such a situation, it is extremely difficult to visualize that the high court, without having a `lis' (subject matter) before it, could even have thought of issuing a command to the census department to take all such measures towards conducting caste-wise census in the country so that social justice in its true sense could be achieved.