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 was decided to observe of every week as a protest day against Centre’s discriminatory policy towards West UP! Today is and so again the lawyers of all 26 districts of West UP will be on strike and no work will be done in any court of any of these 26 districts of West UP! It has been more than 36 years that lawyers have been doing so but Centre is caring a damn!
In hindsight, 21 December is a date which I can never forget in my life because it was on this black day in 2014 that Dr OP Sharma who is the former President of Meerut Bar and who is held in highest esteem here lost his only son – Tarun Sharma who also was a budding advocate to bullets and that too right in front of his house! He was about to be engaged just after about two to three months! He had pursued his MBA from New Zealand and then chose to follow the worthy footsteps of his father by wearing black coat but his live was abruptly cut short by bullets!
He had everything in him to become like his illustrious father an eminent lawyer and even a Judge of High Court and Supreme Court but alas that was not to happen as bullets snatched the promising life of an intelligent young lawyer! He too as long as he was alive vociferously and actively supported the legitimate agitation for a high court bench in West UP and always lead from the front in demanding it along with his father! He also had done LLM and even PhD was within his reach if his life was not cut short! Even a senior and eminent criminal lawyer of Meerut Bar – KP Singh too was shot dead by criminals with impunity some years back!
Just recently, a 100 year old woman was raped in Meerut and she died within no time! Most recently a young woman was gang raped in Meerut and she was crying saying that she would have to travel so far to Allahabad to attend court hearings as there is no high court bench in West UP! Why can’t a single high court bench be set up for West UP when both high court at Allahabad and a single bench in Lucknow are both in Eastern UP? I really fail to understand why Centre is so opposed to a bench here just like the earlier past governments in Centre?
In Hapur a small girl aged 6 or 7 years gangraped then people protested in huge numbers in streets! This keeps happening every now and then! It is now treated as new normal! No one is safe in West UP and criminals know that because of huge pending cases it will take decades before the case is finally decided and by the time they are decided they would die a natural death! Gang rape on national highway as happened at Bulandshahr is nothing new! Muzaffarnagar riots in West UP shamed us internationally yet no bench here!
Chief Justice of UP – Dilip Babasaheb rightly pointed out that in Maharashtra woman are so safe that they can go anywhere even in the night but in UP no one is safe even with their family and even on the national highways! Yet see the irony that Maharashtra has 3 high court benches and UP only one and West UP where maximum crime incidents occur has none as both a single bench at Lucknow and high court at Allahabad are in Eastern UP! How can this be ever justified by anyone? Criminals are ruling the roost and Centre yet firmly reiterates that no bench for West UP! Who is gaining most by Centre’s inaction in setting up a bench here? Criminals and only criminals!
The Union Government has set aside Rs 3,320 crore for building 3143 court halls and 1682 residences for Judges but what about a high court bench in West UP? Why can’t a few crore rupees be spared for setting up a bench anywhere in West UP? Why even 1 district is not considered fit to be granted a bench in whole of West UP?
Why is it ignored that high court itself was initially in West UP at Agra for 3 years before being shifted to Allahabad? Why Justice Jaswant Singh Commission recommendation to create a high court bench in Agra in West UP was most brazenly disregarded even though on its recommendations benches were set up at other places like Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu? Why Centre is not prepared to make any concession on bench issue for West UP? Why many BJP leaders like Laxmikant Vajpayee meet UP CM Yogi Adityanath and demand bench just like others leaders have been doing since independence but still no bench is being created here?
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 in 2001 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.
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 but there we see neither high court nor bench!
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? Gang rape is becoming a routine in West UP yet 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 Guinness 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 Centre fails to appreciate that the population of West UP is more than the population of many states put together and similarly the pending cases also are the highest and more than the cases of several states put together yet not even a bench here leave alone high court? Why the maximum cases of rapes, gang rapes, riots, murders, etc are all from West UP yet not even a high court bench here?
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 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 to happen?
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 Gulbarga 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 litigants of 26 districts of West UP are compelled to travel whole night all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench here? Why lawyers of West UP are compelled to strike every since 1981?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.