To begin with, it is no ordinary matter that the lawyers of West UP have been on strike every since May 1981 to protest against denying West UP even a single bench of high court even though the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended the setting up of a high court bench at Agra apart from Nainital and Dehradun which are now in Uttarakhand but not a single bench was created anywhere. On the contrary, Centre took just no time to create a high court bench at Aurangabad in Maharashtra in 1985 on the recommendations of the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission as also at Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! It was then that the lawyers of West UP decided to set up a Central Action Committee to pursue the most sacred and legitimate demand for a high court bench by fighting for it relentlessly till it reaches its logical conclusion.
It needs no rocket scientist to conclude that it is the “poorest of the poor” people among the more than 9 crore people of all religions, castes, communities and sexes without any discrimination whatsoever who will stand to gain the maximum if a high court bench is created in West UP! What is the problem then in creating a high court bench for more than 9 crore people living in 26 districts of West UP in 2018 when a high court bench for Lucknow for just 12 districts was created way back in 1948 on ? Why even after 70 years is Centre not prepared to create a high court bench in West UP even though the people are compelled to travel for about 700-800 km whole night all the way to Allahabad as there is no bench here and have to spend huge money for staying, lodging and other expenses? Why can’t all this be avoided by setting up a high court bench in West UP or by attaching 26 districts of West UP with Delhi High Court which is so nearby?
Why the high court and benches of 8 states and above all even Lahore high court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad? Why the lawyers of West UP were compelled to go on strike for 6 months from July to December 2001 demanding the creation of a high court bench in West UP yet no action taken? Can anyone in Centre even dream as to how the lawyers managed to strike for so long thereby depriving themselves from livelihood for full 6 months and how they struggled to meet their daily end yet no bench created?
Even in 2014-15, the lawyers of West UP went on strike for 3 to 4 months and even boycotted Lok Adalats and protested whole night outside the court but again Centre just gave empty assurances but nothing materialized on ground! Even in 2009, the lawyers of West UP went on strike and even called a bandh in whole of West UP to protest the decision to not create a single bench here! Even in 2010, the lawyers of West UP went on strike for a month demanding bench.
Most recently, the lawyers of West UP went on strike for a week from to protest against the Governor of West Bengal Kesarinath Tripathi being accorded a guest honour in CCSU and while staging peaceful protest, many senior and eminent lawyers among others got injured badly, the most prominent being Chaudhary Narendrapal Singh, OP Sharma, MP Sharma and Vinod Rana among others as Kesarinath Tripathi had opposed the creation of a bench in West UP in 1995-96 when Mayawati wanted the same to be done and had infamously said that, “Creation of a bench in West UP will be over my dead body”. Why this hatred for West UP? Have people of West UP ever opposed the creation of just one bench for whole of UP in Lucknow which is just 150 km away from Allahabad where high court itself is located? If Lucknow is capital then so are Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Dehradun and Thiruvananthapuram among others?
Why a high court bench at Port Blair for just 3 lakh people, a high court for just 6 lakh people of Sikkim, for just few lakhs of people of people in Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura as also in many other smaller states? Why a high court now for Uttarakhand since 2000 for just 88 lakh people but not even a bench for more than 9 crore people of West UP? Why such a raw and third rated treatment for them?
Recently, President, PM and Chief Justice of India among others wished the nation on “Constitution Day” and everyone reiterated the dire need to make justice accessible to poor people! But I fail to understand why since last 70 years a single bench has been denied to West UP thus compelling people to travel without any reason so far to Allahabad to get justice? Why when 230th report of Law Commission recommended creation of more high court benches was it not implemented in big states like UP and Bihar which top in the crime rate, murder rate and still UP has just one bench and Bihar has no bench even though Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is from Bihar? Why more than half of pending cases from West UP as acknowledged even by Justice Jaswant Commission yet no bench created here?
Why for a peaceful state like Karnataka 2 more benches were approved in 2012 at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts even though a bench existed at Hubli even though the pending cases are less than 2 lakh and that of UP stands at more than 10 lakh pending cases? Similarly why many other states like Maharashtra and Assam have 3 and 4 benches but for UP which has maximum population more than 22 crore as CM Yogi Adityananth keeps boasting still has least benches in India inspite of having maximum pending cases in high court about 10 lakh and more than 58 lakh in lower courts?
Why maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum villages more than 1 lakh whereas in other states the number is not more than few thousands at the most, maximum districts, maximum crime etc all in UP yet least benches here? Why former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon slams UP as “crime and rape capital of India” still we see least benches here and here too West UP which accounts for maximum crime has least benches? Why even leaders of BJP as also other parties are repeatedly killed by criminals without any fear and crime rate is exceeding so much that even foreign tourists are not spared as we saw a Swiss couple beaten up badly in Agra still no bench here? Why even 100 year old woman is raped by criminals without any fear still no bench here?
Why Centre does not have pity on more than 9 crore people of West UP in whose support lawyers have been waging agitating for a bench since independence and which has intensified since 1981 when lawyers decided to strike every and make sure that no lawyer does any work on this day and unitedly demand the creation of a bench here? Why lawyers even started striking many times even on Wednesdays yet Centre took no notice? Why even Atal Bihari Vajpayee demanded bench for West UP inside Parliament yet no action?
Why all Union Ministers, MPs and MLAs have unitedly demanded creation of a bench here yet no action? Why for 36 years lawyers of West UP have been striking which should find entry even in Guiness Book of World Records for most period of strike still no bench is being created here? Why in 1955 the then UP CM Sampoornanand had demanded the creation of a bench in Meerut but Centre didn’t agree even though Lucknow had a bench since 1948?
Why this stupidity that the people of Uttarakhand had to travel thousands of kilometers as it had no bench and for more than 50 years were compelled to travel all the way to Allahabad as a single bench was created at Lucknow in 1948? Why bench was not approved for any other place? Why even after 70 years nothing has been done to remedy this grave injustice? Why inspite of population of West UP being more than any other state except Maharashtra and Bihar and here too areawise Bihar with 94000 square km is smaller than West UP with 98000 square km still it has no bench?
Why inspite of repeated assurances by successive governments in Centre was nothing done to fulfil it? With what face is Centre denying a bench even now when Amit Shah who is BJP national President and Rajnath Singh who is Union Home Minister had repeatedly assured that a bench would be created once NDA comes to power in Centre and in UP? Why Centre feels that even if lawyers of West UP strike for 100 more years nothing will change?
Why only lip service of “speedy justice”, “justice to be made accessible to the poor” and “justice at doorsteps” if no step is taken to create a bench in West UP where incidents of crime are touching dizzying heights? Why Centre fails to appreciate that lawyers of West UP striking since such a long time for 36 long years every and regularly holding meetings after meetings to chalk out new strategy to push forward the surge of creating a bench can be resolved only by creating a bench here in any of the 26 districts wherever Centre wishes to do so? Is it such a big deal?
Should it not be done immediately? It is the litigants who will stand to gain and here too it is the “poorest of poor” who will benefit most if a bench is created here and all strikes every and sometimes even and sometimes for 6 months in a row will become a matter of past! Does Centre not wishes this happens?
Why then it refuses to take any action on this score? Why is Centre not taking some action to ensure that this more than 36 year old strike by lawyers of West UP is brought to an end by mutual deliberations, discussions and decisions? Why is decision on this score being postponed inordinately when a bench was created at Lucknow in 1948, in Dharwad and Gumbarga for just 4 and 8 districts and in many other places even though the law and order situation is worse in West UP as compared to any other place for which benches were approved? Why can’t Centre stop coughing preposterous excuses and create a bench in West UP by which more than 9 crore people will gain in equal measure?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.