To start with, it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to inform all my esteemed readers that after 70 years of relentless struggle by lawyers of West UP for a high court bench it seems that finally their tireless efforts are beginning to pay off! None other than the Union Home Minister of India Rajanth Singh who earlier also in his capacity as UP CM had supported the creation of a bench in West UP has categorically assured the lawyers of West UP that they would hear good news about creation of a high court bench in West UP very soon!
This assurance came when a delegation of senior lawyers of West UP comprising of Gajender Pal Singh who was the then President of Meerut Bar, Ajay Sharma who was the then General Secretary of Meerut Bar, Rohitashwa Kumar Aggarwal who has just won the elections for post of President of Meerut Bar for 5th time and who is also former Chairman of UP Bar Council and also presently member of UP Bar Council, Prabodh Kumar Sharma who has just won the elections for post of General Secretary of Meerut Bar, Anil Bakshi who is former President of Meerut Bar and also present member of UP Bar Council, Satish Chand Gupta who is former President of Meerut Bar, Sanjay Sharma who is former General Secretary of Meerut Bar and who all are also part of Central Action Committee formed to pursue the struggle for a bench in West UP apprised him of the dire need for the same!
I have just no words to appreciate Rajnath Singh for this grand assurance. It is the more than 9 crore people of West UP who will stand to gain the most as also all those who hail from other regions but live here as they won’t have to travel more than 700 km all the way to Allahabad to get justice and attend court hearings! Their time, money and many other problems will get solved as they won’t have to travel so far, spend so much money on various expenses like staying, travelling, hiring lawyers etc!
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! What an unbeatable irony that Allahabad High Court tops with maximum pending cases at 10 lakh and still it has least high court benches – only one at Lucknow for just 12 districts!
What a shame that man and boys in West UP have the guts to indulge in molestation as they 14 of them did in Rampur district in West UP when they molested and assaulted 2 girls in broad daylight in a village under Tanda police station in Rampur and also filmed the act on their cellphone cameras and later put it on Facebook! One accused even forcibly lifts her up laughing! While the girls are seen pleading with them to let them go, the youths are seen laughing and misbehaving with them! This is fast becoming the norm in West UP and even UP!
There is zero fear of law in West UP and UP! How long will the government keep tom-tomming the same old argument on lawlessness in West UP and UP? Why no strict action is taken against culprits?
Only 1 or 2 of them have been arrested till now! Why so much of leniency towards them? Why politicians like Azam Khan instead of blaming boys and men advice women and girls instead to avoid places where they may be molested? Molestation cannot be justified under any circumstances and those who molest women or girls must be sent behind bars for at least seven years without allowing them to come out of the jail in between! While the girls are seen pleading with them to let them go, the youths are seen laughing and a few of them shooting the incident without any fear of law! Recently we saw how a girl who was raped in Kushinagar in 2016 was again sought to be raped by the same rapist as he got bail and threatened the victim and her family with dire consequences!
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? If Lucknow is capital of UP, Bhopal is also capital of MP, Bhubaneshwar is also capital of Odisha and so is the case with many other big cities which neither have high court nor bench!
Why politicians have ensured that a high court bench was created for Lucknow about 69 years back on July 1, 1948 but not at any other place especially in West UP, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur even 70 years later? Why Centre decided to create 2 more benches for Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts but not a single for West UP with 26 disricts? Why 230th report of Law Commission submitted in 2009 which recommended creation of more benches has only been implemented in Karnataka alone and not in UP, Bihar or other big states?
When Dr Sampoornanand who was the UP CM way back in 1955 very strongly recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut, Jawaharlal Nehru refused as he felt that one bench at Lucknow was enough. The number of pending cases way back in 1948 were not much but see the situation now! West UP now accounts for more than half of the pending cases of total pending cases of UP and UP tops the maximum pending cases state list with 10 lakh pending cases still it has just one high court bench as no more benches were created in UP since 1948! Other states like Karnataka and Maharashtra don’t have 10 lakh or 9 lakh or 8 lakh or 7 lakh or 6 lakh or 5 lakh or 4 lakh or 3 lakh or even 2 lakh cases still they have got 3 high court benches but UP has only one! Is this fair?
Why not a single bench of high court was created in West UP even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi very strongly recommended 3 benches for West UP and hilly areas adjoining it which now form a separate state – Uttarakhand at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun? Why women victims have to travel so far away to Allahabad which is about 700-800 km away from most of the districts of West UP and be made to suffer so much for the inordinate delay and made to bear the huge expenses in fighting the case for her right in making sure that sexual offenders are sent behind bars?
Why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 22 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out 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, 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?
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 and has pledged on numerous occasions his unstinted support for a high court bench in West UP but even after his BJP led government is nearing 3 years in power yet it has failed to create even a single more bench of high court not just in West UP but anywhere in UP! But now with Rajnath Singh very strongly assuring the lawyers of West UP that they will hear the happy news of creation of a high court bench in West UP very soon there is a wave of happiness among the lawyers here as now they feel that finally their relentless struggle is beginning to pay off!
Law Commission in its fourth report way back in 1956 had opposed the creation of more high court benches but in 2009 in its 230th report it supported creating more benches but only Karnataka benefitted! When Nehru allowed the creation of a bench at Lucknow so close to Allahabad way back in 1948 why no other politician allowed creation of a bench thousands of kilometers away at Nainital or Dehradun which till 2000 formed part of UP and for which Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended creation of benches nor at Agra in West UP where it recommended way back in late 1970s?Eminent and senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal himself had mentioned as told by another former Union Minister RPN Singh that he had recommended a high court bench at Meerut but the then state government led by Akhilesh Yadav refused to endorse it! It was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand had recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut but even after 62 years we see no bench as Centre had refused then! Similarly many other UP CM had also recommended the creation of a high court bench here but to no avail! Why Centre didn’t act promptly?
Lawyers of West UP have been striking work for 6 months without break several times demanding high court bench as they did in 2001 and for 3 months as they did in 2014-15 and we keep seeing strike nearly every month apart from the strike of Saturdays yet no bench! They even go on strike every Saturday since May 1981 to protest West UP not being given a bench even though Justice Jaswant Commission had explicitly recommended 3 benches and formed Central Action Committee to pursue relentlessly the demand for a high court bench in West UP! What a pity that till now all they got was just fake assurances sometimes from Centre and sometimes from State! Nothing else!
I still remember that how former President of Meerut Bar Gajender Singh Dhama and many other former Presidents repeatedly met the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and others and repeatedly they got assurance that soon bench would be created in West UP. But instead of approving bench for 26 districts of West UP what the UPA government did was to not approve even one bench not just for West UP but for any part of UP and rather approved 2 more benches for just 4 and 8 districts of Karnataka at Gulbarga and Dharwad respectively even though they never went on strike or protested since so many decades unlike West UP! Reports were published in newspapers that a high powered Committee was set up under the chairmanship of former CJI Justice (retd) AM Ahmadi but after that what happened no one came to know! This is terrible!
One only hopes that this time around the same old saga will not play out again! Earlier even Sanjeev Baliyan who is a Union Minister in present NDA government had expressed hope that a bench would be created by end of 2016 in West UP but nothing happened! Amit Shah who is BJP President had also assured that bench would be created in West UP after senior lawyers from West UP met him but we saw how PM Narendra Modi himself went to Allahabad High Court and assured the lawyers there that no bench would be set up without their consent in West UP which clearly indicated that this so sensitive issue was once again put on the backburner in cold storage! But now Rajnath Singh’s latest assurances has again ignited fresh hopes among the lawyers and people of West UP that a bench would be soon created here!
Finally and most importantly, now no more delay and no more lame excuses! Now only and only more benches for UP! Only then will the more than 22 crore people of UP get some relief especially women and girls who are most vulnerable to all types of crimes and will not have to waste huge money and time to get justice which they don’t get usually in their lifetime as Allahabad High Court is overloaded with more than 10 lakh pending cases and more than half of High Court Judges post are still lying vacant! This open endless sham must end now! Why the recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to create a high court bench at Aurangabad was promptly accepted but recommendations to create 3 high court benches at Nainital, Agra and Dehradun were blatantly disregarded by not approving even a single bench in all these places? Why for just few lakhs of people of small states like Sikkim, Tripura, Mehalaya, Manipur among others a high court can be created but for West UP which has more than 9 crore population there is not even a single bench of high court? Above all, even for Andaman and Nicobar islands where population is just about 3 lakh there is a high court bench at Port Blair but for West UP there is not even a single bench of high court? This is most shocking and shameful!
What West UP needs where crime and violence especially against women and children is crossing all limits, the answer is not to set up anti-Romeo squads but to set up more benches! However, it seems that the ghost of Jawaharlal Nehru who allowed only bench in whole of UP and that too so near to Allahabad will not permit our politicians whether they are of any party to approve even a single bench not just in West UP but in any other part of UP like Bundelkhand, Poorvanchal etc! Shocking! If a high court bench is created it is “poorest of poor” of all castes and all religions and the most deprived and hapless women of all religions and all castes 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! What will temple at Ayodhya give? Only Hindu devotees will be satisfied and for justice they too who live in West UP would have to march 700-800 km as we see right now! 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. Centre must have some pity on woman at least now 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 urgent creation of bench here on a war footing by which people of all religions and all castes and all sexes will benefit equally!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.