In one of the most sensational disclosure ever made in my life time, I was most astonished to read in the Hindi edition of Hindustan newspaper dated July 24, 2016 on page 4 that RPN Singh who is one of the leading Congress national spokesperson and former Union Minister whom we all keep hearing in various news channels saying that, “In Congress government’s rule in Centre, Kapil Sibal who was Union Law Minister had written very categorically to UP Government for creating a high court bench for West UP at Meerut and asked the State Government to make available land for creating a high court bench in Meerut. But the request was not granted.” It is most hurting to learn that for more than 9 crore people of West UP, the then Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal wanted a bench to be created at Meerut but the State Government refused and did not grant the land for creating a bench in Meerut!
Let me recall here that Dr Sampoornanand who was UP CM had recommended a high court bench to be created way back in 1955 at Meerut but till now no bench has been created! Many other UP CM later had also recommended for the same but the request was not complied by Centre! Disgusting!
RPN Singh further clarified that he himself wants that a high court bench for West UP should be created at Agra, Meerut, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur! What a pity that still not a single more bench has been created till now except the one already at Lucknow just 150-200 km away from Allahabad where high court is located.! What a pity that when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by Central Government way back in 1970s headed by former Supreme Court Judge and former Chief Justice of J&K High Court Justice Jaswant Singh strongly recommended for creating 3 benches for West UP at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun did Centre ruled by Congress did not allow the creation of a single high court bench anywhere in West UP even while accepting the recommendations of Justice Jaswant Commission to create a high court bench at Aurangabad in Maharashtra! Benches were also approved for Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal but not for West UP! What a pity that all national parties kept a deafening silence when this worst form of injustice was committed on more than 9 crore people of West UP by denying even a single bench to West UP while later allowing high court for just 88 lakh people of new State Uttarakhand which till 2000 formed part of West UP and UP! It is precisely due to this third rated treatment meted out to West UP that the lawyers of West UP have been going on strike every since May 1981 and 35 years later they are still on strike and today being a they are again on strike with senior lawyers themselves supervising the complete boycott of work in all courts! What a pity that lawyers of West UP went on strike for 3 months as they did in 2014-15 and even for six months as they did in 2001 yet no bench ! What a pity that lawyers of West UP even started going on strike for 2 days in a week – and but Centre refused to budge!
Former Justice BP Singh (retd) of Allahabad High Court not just accepted the invitation to swear in the newly elected members of Meerut Bar recently but also publicly supported the age old demand for a high court bench in West UP. He said unambiguously that Centre should promptly create a high court bench in West UP without any more further delay. He also exhorted the lawyers of Meerut Bar to make bench movement a public movement. He also suggested that it is only by connecting people that the bench movement will be made more stronger and stronger.
Justice BP Singh minced no words in making it absolutely clear that as long as this bench movement for creation of a high court bench in West UP is restricted to lawyers only and will not get connected with people it will never attain success. It is a no brainer thus that the more than 9 crore people of West UP would have to connect with this bench issue to make it a splendid success. There can be no denying this and when such an experienced Judge of the Allahabad High Court himself says this on record, what more should I say?
What a pity that West UP whose population is more than any other state except Maharashtra and Bihar has not even a single bench whereas Andaman and Nicobar islands with just 3 districts and 3 lakh population, Goa with just 2 districts and 14 lakh population have benches! Not just this, areawise West UP exceeds that of Bihar which has 94000 square km and West UP has 98000 square kilometers! What a pity that Centre takes no time in creating high court itself at Sikkim where the number of pending cases were just 69 – 54 civil and 15 criminal but fails to approve even a single bench for West UP which has several lakhs of pending cases! What a pity that when a bench can be created at Goa for just 2 districts, at Dharwad for just 4 districts, at Gulbarga for just 8 districts, at Aizwal for just 8 districts, at Port Blair for 3 districts, at Lucknow for 12 districts etc but no bench for West UP with 26 districts!
What a pity that Centre decided to create high courts for Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur with just 36, 29 and 27 lakh population but denied a bench to West UP with more than 9 crore population! What a pity that Centre has overlooked that as UP accounts for maximum pending cases – 15 lakh cases and here too West UP accounts for more than 57% of pending cases, UP must have maximum and not minimum benches and West UP must have most benches and not none as we see most unfortunately right now!
What a pity that when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 20 crore, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies, maximum MPs – 80, maximum MLAs – 404, maximum PM including Narendra Modi, maximum pending cases – more than 10 lakh and here too West UP accounts for more than half of pending cases as noted by Justice Jaswant Commission about 57%, maximum Judges which earlier was 160 and increased to 200 in high court, maximum vacancies of Judges – 88 in high court, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, maximum cases of human rights violations, maximum undertrials, maximum cases of crime, loot, arson and riots and here too West UP tops with Saharanpur riots, Meerut riots, Muzaffarnagar riots tarnishing our international reputation to the extent that UN Secretary General termed UP as “crime and rape capital” of India and what not yet Centre is not prepared to create even a single bench for not just West UP but entire UP! What a pity that when UP sends maximum MPs to Lok Sabha – 80, maximum MPs to Rajya Sabha – 30, maximum MLAs to State Assembly – 404 MLAs and maximum members to State Legislative Council – 100 MLAs and yet has least benches – only one and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow! What a pity that UP has least benches in India and West UP has none?
What a pity that more than 9 crore people of West UP are compelled to travel more than 800 km on an average all the way to Allahabad to attend hearings, spend huge money in travelling, staying and other needless expenses as Centre feels only Eastern UP is elite class and that is why a single bench for UP is set up just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow which is capital even though capitals of other states like Bhopal, Dehradun, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneshwar etc have neither high court nor bench! Is Bhopal inferior to Lucknow in any manner? Then why it has no high court or bench even though it is capital? Same can be said for other capital cities like Dehradun and others!
Dr Satyapal Singh who is the former Mumbai Police Commissioner and presently represents Baghpat constituency raised most forcefully the pressing issue of setting up of a high court bench issue in Lok Sabha on March 9, 2016. He pointed out how despite UP having more than 22 crore population and 75 districts has least benches and West UP has none! Should we be proud of this? He rightly said that, “I had raised the issue of the HC bench in the Lok Sabha . This is not only a need for lawyers but also the need of the common people as well. There should be a bench in Meerut, Agra, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Jhansi. If the Lucknow bench of HC can be created for 12 districts, why can’t we have 4-5 separate benches for all the 75 districts in the state? The first war of independence began from Meerut and the movement to provide affordable justice to people should also start from Meerut. I have already written a letter to PM Modi and I will write to him again. We don’t need the consent of either the state government or the CJ of the Allahabad HC”. Still even after more than 2 years of BJP being in power with majority in Parliament, it is not creating even a single bench anywhere in UP not even in Varanasi which PM Modi himself represents! Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee too had forcefully raised it in Parliament way back in 1986 and demanded the setting up of a bench in West UP!
Rajnath Singh who is number 2 in the present NDA government holding Home Minister portfolio too recently assured the creation of high court bench at the earliest when a delegation of lawyers from West UP met him. He had even while in Opposition assured the creation of a bench in West UP if his party came to power in Centre! He admitted that there was a dire need of a bench in West UP. Two years have already passed since this government came to power in Centre and now it must walk the talk and waste no time in creating a high court bench in West UP. Where the bench is created is not relevant. What is relevant is that a bench must be created at the earliest as the people have to travel so far all the way to Allahabad which is about 750 km away on an average from most of the districts of West UP and suffer all sorts of inconveniences! But still we see no bench being created not just in West UP but anywhere in UP except the one at Lucknow! Most disgusting!
Centre is following what the previous governments in Centre have followed – No bench not just in West UP but in any hook and corner of UP except at Lucknow which is so near to Allahabad! Centre wastes no time to set up 2 more benches for Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts in 2012 but refuses to set up even a single bench for 26 districts in West UP or for 75 districts of UP! Karnataka has just 6 crore population and less than 2 lakh cases pending whereas UP has more than 10 lakh cases pending with West UP alone having more than 5 lakh cases pending still not a single more bench being created here not just in West UP but anywhere in UP!
For Haryana with just 2 crore population, Centre is contemplating setting up of a bench for Western Haryana and a 4 Judge panel comprising of high court judges of Punjab and Haryana high court had been set up for the purpose! The Assembly of Jharkhand has approved setting up of bench at Dumkur and it already has high court and population just 3 crore! When states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam etc have 3 or more benches then why should UP have only one bench and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad and West UP with more than 9 crore population have none? When UP has maximum pending cases among all states more than 10 lakhs and here too West UP accounts for more than half of them and here also in all heinous crimes like riots, rape, murder, arson, loot it is West UP which tops the list and yet West UP has no high court bench in any of the 26 districts which are about 750-900 km away from Allahabad and UP only one bench and that too very near to Allahabad at Lucknow which is just 150-200 km away! Is this fair? This is the crux of the matter! Centre must now create one! It brooks no delay anymore now.
Just promising to make UP “Uttam Pradesh” without creating even a single more bench anywhere in UP will only tantamount to duping people of not just West UP but of entire UP which is the largest state with maximum population! When the Law Commission itself in its 230th report had strongly recommended more than seven years ago that more high court benches must be created in India then why only Karnataka alone is the single beneficiary with 2 more benches being created for 4 and 8 districts but not anywhere else? Why is Centre always afraid of creating more benches in UP even though it knows that it is UP alone with more than 20 crore population that needs more benches with West UP needing it most with more than 9 crore population and most crime, riots, murders, loots etc happening in maximum cases here?
When West UP contributes to 75% of the total revenue of UP then why the people of West UP are compelled to travel so far to get justice? Rajinder Chaudhary who is a senior minister in UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s Cabinet while addressing lawyers of Meerut Bar strongly recommended creation of 6 more benches for UP and just recently Madhulika Yadav who is Vice Chairman of UP Bar Council pitched her voice very strongly in favour of creation of a bench in West UP. Many Union Cabinet ministers like Rajnath Singh who is our home minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Gen VK Singh, etc have too strongly demanded creation of a bench in West UP! Eminent jurist and former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee, former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman BN Krishnamani, Ram Jethmalani, Kapil Sibal, and many others have also strongly supported demand of bench in West UP! Ravi Shankar Prasad who is now Law Minister had in his earlier stint himself asked the Chief Justice of UP High Court to give his opinion on creating a high court bench in West UP!
Why West UP has an area of 98,933 square km which accounts for 33.61 percent of total area of UP and yet no bench but Lucknow in Central region has just 62,363 square km and yet it has a bench? Why Centre keeps on blaming State for not recommending even when it was in 1955 that a bench for West UP was first recommended and as Soli J Sorabjee, the former Attorney General rightly said way back in 2001 that, “The Centre without any recommendation from the State Chief Minister or Chief Justice of a State is fully empowered under our Constitution to set up a high court bench anywhere it wants at its own volition.” Why Centre ignores blithely what the Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association Krishna Mani had said quite explicitly that, “Only by the creation of a bench of high court in West UP will the people be able to secure speedy and cheap justice at their doorsteps!”
I very strongly feel that if 4 to 5 benches are created in UP there is no need for UP being divided into 4 to 5 parts! But the real problem is: Centre is not ready to create even a single bench anywhere in UP leave alone West UP! Centre and State keep throwing the ball of decision making in the court of other when it comes to creating more benches in UP! It is the more than 20 crore people of UP who are suffering the most especially those who are not close to Allahabad or Lucknow both in Eastern UP yet we see only promises being dished out every time when elections are just round the corner like we see now and nothing else! Why Centre trembles to create even a single more bench anywhere in UP when 3 benches can exist in much smaller states with far less pending cases? This is the worst form of hypocrisy which I dislike the most and no party in Centre till now has risen to the expectations of the people of not just West UP but of whole of UP! Centre must either create 4 to 5 benches or else the last option is to divide UP into 4 or 5 parts just like when it refused to create even a single bench at either Dehradun or Nainital even after Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended for the same had no compunction in creating a high court at Nainital after Uttarakhand was created as a separate state! Why Centre knowing well that West UP has maximum crime, maximum riots as happened recently in Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar etc which brought us international shame yet it approves no bench? Most disgusting! How tragic!
All parties admit that there has been an exodus of people from many places of West UP like Shamli, Kairana etc due to deteriorating law and order even though there is a difference over which community is affected worst. My point is simple: Why can’t a high court bench be created here by which all members of all communities benefit equally? For a peaceful state like Karnataka Dr Manmohan Singh had the guts to create 2 more benches of high court at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts respectively but for 26 districts of West UP and 75 districts of UP, the present PM – Narendra Damodardas Modi even after completing 2 years in office does not have the guts to create even a single more bench in not just West UP but in any hook and corner of UP which has 75 districts and is bigger than many countries! Why?
He speaks so confidently but why he behaves so meekly when it comes to setting up of even a single bench in not just West UP but in any hook and corner of UP and personally goes uninvited to Allahabad High Court as was pointed out by Rohitashawa Aggarwal who is the President of Meerut Bar and is also a member of UP Bar Council and assures the lawyers that no decision on creating a high court bench in West UP would be taken without their consent and this was roundly condemned in West UP by all leading senior lawyers? Will PM Modi keep waiting for the lawyers of Allahabad High Court to give consent knowing fully well that they did not want even a separate high court to be set up at Nainital for Uttaranchal and had prevented setting up of even a bench there even after Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended for the same? If they don’t give consent will he not act at all?
Narendra Modi must behave like PM and not like a subordinate official! If PM Narendra Modi can’t create more benches he must divide UP into 4 to 5 parts! But he can’t just sit idle and wait for others to advice him! UP is the worst faring state and if prompt action is not taken right now by striving hard to improve UP in all respects then well perhaps it may be too late! He must act soon and not just keep shouting from rooftop of ushering peace, progress and prosperity in UP! This cannot happen unless either more benches are created in UP as Rajinder Aggarwal who is BJP MP from Meerut rightly pointed out as also Dr Satpal Singh who is again his party MP from Baghpat!
When West UP contributes to 75% of the total revenue of UP then why the people of West UP are compelled to travel so far to get justice? Rajinder Chaudhary who is a senior minister in UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s Cabinet while addressing lawyers of Meerut Bar strongly recommended creation of 6 more benches for UP and just recently Madhulika Yadav who is Vice Chairman of UP Bar Council pitched her voice very strongly in favour of creation of a bench in West UP. Many Union Cabinet ministers like Rajnath Singh who is our home minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Gen VK Singh, etc have too strongly demanded creation of a bench in West UP! Eminent jurist and former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee, former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman BN Krishnamani, Ram Jethmalani, Kapil Sibal, and many others have also strongly supported demand of bench in West UP! Ravi Shankar Prasad who is now Law Minister had in his earlier stint himself asked the Chief Justice of UP High Court to give his opinion on creating a high court bench in West UP! He must now convince PM Narendra Modi of wasting no time in creating a high court bench in West UP at the earliest! When former PM Manmohan Singh could create 2 benches for just 4 and 8 districts of Karnataka then why can’t PM Narendra Modi create even a single bench for 26 districts of West UP or 75 Districts of UP?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.