Coming straight to the nub of the matter, let me begin on a disconcerting note by observing that it is most astonishing that why lawyers of West UP have been regularly going on strike to protest against the non-creation of a high court Bench in West UP since last many decades but no one in the ruling establishment seems to be doing anything to address it. Leave alone women or common man even the lawyers themselves are not safe in West UP. Time and again we hear some lawyer or the other being shot dead in broad daylight most brutally by criminals without any fear of law whatsoever.
Such criminals know fully well that Allahabad High Court has the highest number of pending cases – about 10 lakh as compared to other states where the number of pending cases don’t exceed 1 lakh or at the most 2 lakhs cases! They know that they will easily get bail and by the time cases are finally decided they will die a natural death. This must change which is possible only if at least in my opinion 10 more benches of high court are created in different parts of UP! Such poor, hapless women and girls, for God sake, need more high court benches and not more temples!
But see the unpalatable irony! Politicians are not prepared to create even a single bench anywhere in UP leave alone West UP! It is a matter of great shame that Allahabad High Court which last year on had completed its 150th year of establishment has the least benches in India – only one at Lucknow and that too just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad! Why no high court bench in West UP at Meerut or Agra or at Jhansi or some other place? We all know that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and also the oldest court! Still why it has least benches in India only one which is so close to Allahabad created way back in 1948 but see the most dangerous irony that 70 years later with 2018 fast approaching no steps are being taken to create a high court bench anywhere else in UP leave alone West UP even though the 230th report of Law Commission very specifically recommended for the same in big states? Why Dr Manmohan Singh had the guts to create 2 more high court benches for just 4 and 8 districts in Dharwad and Gulbarga in Karnataka but neither he nor any other PM nor the present PM – Narendra Damodardas Modi has the guts to create even more bench not just in West UP but in any hook and corner of UP except the one created by Jawaharlal Nehru in Lucknow way back in 1948?
As if this is not enough, now lawyers in West UP are not safe even from policemen. A lawyer Suresh Raj was brutally thrashed by cops in Greater Noida some time back. Still no FIR was lodged against the erring cops. To protest this, the lawyers of West UP will be on strike from September 11 to September 14 and this may extend even further if still no action is taken. It is most hurting to see that lawyers of West UP are compelled to go on strike again and again! But it seems no one is caring!
Why can’t a high court bench be set up in West UP even 70 years after independence in 2018 even though a high court bench was set up for Lucknow for just about 8 districts way back in 1948 on? Why lawyers of West UP are compelled to go on strike every since May 1981 to protest against the step-motherly treatment meted out to West UP by denying them even a single high court bench even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Jaswant Singh had very strongly recommended creation of 3 high court benches in West UP and hilly areas adjoining West UP which have now been carved out as a separate state Uttarakhand as the people had to travel thousands of kilometers just to attend a single court hearing in Allahabad high court? Why benches were set up in other states like at Aurangabad in Maharashtra which already had two benches, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal but not in West UP?
Why maximum crime, maximum riots, maximum killings all take place in West UP but still no high court bench? Why a lawless state like UP whom former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon slammed as “the rape and crime capital of India” has least high court benches in India and West UP which owes for more than 57% of the pending cases as acknowledged by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission has not even a single high court bench? Why Karnataka which has less than 7 crore population, less than 2 lakh cases pending has three high court benches but UP which has not 2 lakh or 3 lakh or 4 lakh or 5 lakh or 6 lakh or 7 lakh or 8 lakh or 9 lakh but more than 10 lakh cases pending which is the highest in India and has more than 22 crore population has least high court benches in India and more than half of the vacancies of Judges in high court are lying vacant? Why this step-motherly treatment for UP which sends maximum MPs to Parliament and West UP in particular?
Why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 22 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out proudly every now and then, 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 – 75 in high court, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh as opposed to other states who have not more than few thousands at the most, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, custodial tortures, maximum dowry cases, maximum rape and gang rape cases, maximum acid throwing cases, maximum bride burning cases, 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 former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon 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? Why 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?
It is so shocking and disgusting to see that West UP is fast becoming the epicenter of all kinds of crimes, rapes, gangrapes, brutal murders, mass murders, dacoity, robbery and what not! What is even more shocking to see is that all political parties barring Samajwadi Party have openly espoused the creation of a high court bench in West UP but still even after seventy years of independence we see no sign of it happening anytime soon! What is most shocking is that inspite of West UP accounting for more than half of the crime cases all over UP, not a single high court bench has been created here since 1947 till now even though a high court bench was created at Lucknow which is just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad way back on July 1, 1948!
Why lawyers of West UP are compelled to go on strike for 6 months in a row as they did in 2001 and for 3 months as they did in 2014-15 and many times go for weeks together demanding a high court bench in West UP? Is it just for fun? Why Centre is doing nothing to address it even though time and again Centre keeps assuring just like Rajnath Singh as also the Law Minister of UP had assured few months back that West UP will soon have a high court bench?Eminent and senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal himself had mentioned as disclosed by another former UPA Union Minister RPN Singh that Kapil Sibal had recommended a high court bench at Meerut but the then state government led by Akhilesh Yadav refused to endorse it!
Why even though it was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand who was the then UP CM had recommended a high court bench at Meerut but Centre refused even though it was approved for Lucknow? Why inspite of recommendations from so many other UP CM – 17 as the President of Meerut Bar Rohitashawa Aggarwal disclosed about an year back did we see no high court bench coming up in any of the 26 districts of West UP and when Uttarakhand was also part of West UP and UP about 40 districts? Why there are so many other capitals like Bhopal, Dehradun, Bhubaneshwar, Thiruvananthapuram etc where there is neither high court nor bench but Lucknow inspite of being so close to Allahabad was selected for bench leaving the hilly areas of Uttarakhand and West UP high and dry?
If a high court bench is created it is “poorest of poor” and the most deprived and hapless women who will benefit most as they will be saved from the unnecessary trouble of travelling so far and spending so much extra money, time etc to just attend one hearing alone! Centre must have some pity on woman at least who are most unsafe in lawless UP and especially West UP and immediately order creation of more benches not just in West UP but also in other parts of UP where the crime rate is high! Crime rate is highest in West UP which necessitates creation of bench here on a war footing!
Who will benefit if more high court benches are built – Hindus alone or Muslims alone or Sikhs alone or Christians alone? No, all people of all religions will benefit equally if more high court benches are built especially in UP which is notorious for being the “rape and crime capital of India” as former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon put it aptly!
Why inspite of BJP leaders being killed most ruthlessly in West UP as happened recently still Centre is taking no steps to create a high court bench in West UP? Why Nehruji had the great guts to set up a high court bench in Lucknow just about 200 km away from Allahabad where high court is located and that too 70 years ago in 1948 and so also Dr Manmohan Singh had the guts to set up 2 more benches for Karnataka which already had a bench at Hubli but no Prime Minister till date with 2018 about to start has summoned the courage to set up not a single more bench in UP leave alone West UP or in Bihar which is another lawless state and which has not even a single high court bench?
Why are lawyers of West UP forced to become non-practising lawyers by going on strike again and again sometimes for 3 months or 6 months or for many weeks or for few days as they will do now on 11, 12, and every since 1981 and even many times ? Why lawyers are compelled to block highways, lie down in front of a train and indulge in different form of protest instead of practicing quietly since last many decades and even go on padyatra demanding bench? Why this has just no effect on Centre? Why even Atal Bihari Vajpayee raised the demand of a high court bench in West UP inside Parliament way back in 1986?
Why Centre takes no time to set up 2 more high court benches at Karnataka which is a relatively very peaceful state as compared to UP in Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts but has just no time to set up even a single bench for 26 districts of West UP who have been agitating ever since my father was a small baby? Why the 230th report of Law Commission which recommended the creation of more benches has been implemented only in Karnataka alone? Why people of West UP are compelled to travel more than 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench here even though the population of West UP is more than 9 crore?
Misbauddin Siddiqui, President of the Meerut District Bar Association said, “The problem is that the Allahabad High Court has the highest number of pending cases. The pressure is huge. Allahabad is very far from Western UP. It is around 800 km from Saharanpur. Eight other high courts are closer to Western UP, and interestingly Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer than Allahabad High Court. The cost of travelling to Allahabad, and then staying there is huge for poor people. That is why we have been demanding a high court bench. Successive governments have denied us this. Now, we are hopeful as there is the same party in both the Centre and state and the law minister has given us an assurance.” But after nearly six months we still see no signs of any action in creating a bench in West UP!
Why the newly appointed Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhonsle rightly lashed out at the law and order situation in UP and said that in Maharashtra women or girl venture out in night anywhere yet never such incidents of gang rape occur? Yet why Maharashtra has 3 benches and UP only one and West UP none? Why Rajnath Singh who is Union Home Minister while addressing public gathering in Patiyali constituency of Kasarganj district is on record stating in February 2017 that UP reported 7,673 riots, 4660 murder, 4096 robberies and 260 dacoities in just one year yet it has least benches in India and West UP has none where maximum crime incidents are reported?
I can keep going on endlessly as to why West UP must have a high court bench and UP also more benches but what is most shocking is that not a single bench is coming up anywhere in UP even though now both UP and Centre is being ruled by same party – BJP! UP CM Yogi Adityanath himself raised the demand for a bench inside Parliament a long time back in 1998-99 but now even he feels helpless as Centre is not relenting! Why Rajinder Aggarwal who is BJP MP from Meerut demanded the setting up of 3 benches in UP at Meerut, Agra and Gorakhpur right inside Parliament and Satpal Malik another BJP MP recently made Union Minister too demanded the setting up of 5 more benches in UP at Meerut, Agra, Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Varanasi but Centre is not prepared to set up even one bench anywhere in UP? Why this senseless stubbornness? This nation wants to know why?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.