Statistics Act 2008: Overview

  Sep 07, 2023

Collection of Statistics Act, 2008:

1. What is the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008?

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 is a central law that facilitates the collection of statistics on various subjects including economic, demographic, social, scientific, and environmental aspects.

2. What does the term "appropriate government" mean in this Act?

The "appropriate government" refers to any ministry or department in the central government, state government, or Union territory administration. It also encompasses local governments, including panchayats and municipalities.

3. Can state governments conduct censuses or surveys under this Act?

Yes, but there are conditions. The Act has provisions (Section 3) that allow state governments, UT administrations, or local governments to issue directions for collecting statistics. However, they cannot do so on matters that fall under List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. They also need central government approval if the Centre is already collecting similar statistics.

4. Does the Act differentiate between 'census' and 'survey'?

The Act, specifically Section 2(g), uses the terms 'census' and 'survey' interchangeably when referring to the collection of information by appropriate governments.

5. Why was there controversy regarding the Bihar government's caste survey?

The central contention was whether the Bihar government had the authority to conduct a caste-based survey, considering that 'census' falls under the Union List (List I) of the Seventh Schedule. The Patna High Court upheld the survey, stating that the Bihar government can collect data for implementing welfare schemes within the state and for affirmative action.

 6. What did the Patna High Court say about the Act?

The court opined that while 'census' is under Entry 69 of List I, it doesn’t prevent any state government from collecting live data. The court also asserted that the Collection of Statistics Act does not restrict the details a state can collect in a survey unless it overlaps with the Centre's ongoing collection or pertains to matters under List I.

7. How did the Patna High Court relate the Act to constitutional provisions?

The court cited Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, which talk about prohibition of discrimination and equality in public employment, respectively. If state bodies can take action under these provisions, like offering reservations, then collecting data on backward classes is a part of that process.

8. What is the stance of the Modi government regarding the Bihar caste survey?

The Modi government's main claim is that only the central government is empowered to conduct a census as per Entry 69 of the Seventh Schedule. The government believes that the subject of the census is covered in the Union List and governed by the Census Act, 1948.

9. How does the Act relate to the Census Act, 1948?

The Collection of Statistics Act facilitates broader data collection, including that of a census. However, the Census Act, 1948 specifically governs the conducting of the census in India. The Patna High Court opined that the Census Act doesn't prevent states from conducting surveys, provided conditions in Sections 3(b) and 3(c) of the Collection of Statistics Act are adhered to.

10. What should one remember about this Act in the context of the Bihar caste survey?

The key takeaway is the debate over the authority to conduct censuses and surveys. While the Centre asserts its exclusive right based on the Census Act and the Union List, the Bihar government, backed by the Patna High Court's judgment, believes states have the competence to collect certain data, especially when it pertains to welfare and affirmative action.
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