It is being said that if in case census order approved by the United Kingdom Parliament is quashed and redesigned with a Sikh ethnic tick-box, it will delay the full year of the census and cost a quarter of a billion pounds (Rs 2,411 crore) of “astonishing waste of public funds,” the Cabinet Office told the High Court here.
The census of England and Wales is expected to take place in March 2021.
Jonathan Auburn, a lawyer for the Cabinet Office, told the High Court administrative court on Wednesday that commercial contracts had been entered into, 200 workers had been hired and three million forms had been printed, so that the quashing of the order would “give rise to huge costs and a huge loss of public funds.”
He said that delay would not only damage the credibility of data but would also have negative implications for the entire public sector decision-making and funding allocations, ranging from health, migration, and employment. “There has never been a case before you to demonstrate such a degree of damage to the public administration,” he said.
The Sikh Federation (UK), with the help of more than 150 gurdwaras and Sikh organizations, has brought a judicial review against the Cabinet Office questioning the absence of a separate Sikh tick box in the response section of the 2021 census ethnicity section.
The federation claims that ethnic data on Sikhs need to be registered to assist public bodies with planning services and claims that not all Sikhs are classified as Sikhs by faith.
Mr. Justice Choudhury, presiding over the hearing, said he would hand down judgment in a few weeks’ time.