First and foremost, let me express my profound condolences to all those in Kasganj area in Aligarh district whose relative has either been killed or their relatives injured or their shops burnt or their vehicles burnt or their house ransacked etc and that too on the occasion of Republic Day! This is not happening in West UP for the first time nor will happen for the last time. People here are used to facing all this!
Let me be direct in saying: West UP is notorious for riots breaking out at the drop of a hat like we saw during Muzaffarnagar riots, Meerut riots, Agra riots, Saharanpur riots, Bareilly riots etc! Every district of West UP comprising of about 26 districts is volatile still no high court bench here. The litigants are compelled to travel and so are the victims required to travel about 700 to 800 km whole night some times without reservation to Allahabad as there is no high court bench in West UP and have to face all sorts of inconveniences in doing so!
It is most distressing to learn that this NDA government in Centre led by PM Narendra Modi has decided to create one more high court bench in Kolhapur in Maharashtra to be a circuit bench which later is usually made permanent as we saw in Karnataka where 2 circuit benches were created for 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga in Karnataka even though there was already a bench in Hubli! Similarly Maharashtra already had benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and in Goa but for West UP with more than 9 crore population there is not even a single bench and for whole of UP there is just one bench just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow leaving the rest of UP high and dry!
It is most shocking to learn that for just 6 districts of Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Satara, Sangli and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, the Centre has approved a high court bench at Kolhapur which shall start functioning soon but for 26 districts of West UP, the Centre is not prepared to create even a single bench of high court in any of these districts! It is even more shocking to learn that as if this is not enough even Pune will soon get a high court bench. Maharashtra’s Food and Civil Supplies minister Girish Bapat had also said that the city of Pune will also get a circuit bench! Thus when a high court bench will be created at Pune, Maharashtra will have five high court benches and UP would have just one and West UP none! It was in the October 25, 2015 issue of ‘The Indian Express’ newspaper that it was published as headlines that, “Bombay High Court urged to set up bench in Pune, Kolhapur: CM Devendra Fadnavis”. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis had conceded while addressing a conference of the Bar Councils of Maharashtra and Goa that, “The demand of lawyers seeking a bench in Pune and Kolhapur is justified. The Cabinet has decided to approve this demand and has sent a request to the Bombay High Court to set up these benches.”
The population of Maharashtra is just half of UP still Maharashtra has now 4 benches and one more will be added soon taking the tally to 5 and UP has just one bench at Lucknow and worse still West UP which owes for more than half of UP’s total pending cases, has not even a single bench of high court! Maharashtra has less than 2 lakh pending cases and UP has more than 10 lakh pending cases still UP has just one bench and West IUP which accounts for more than half of the pending cases has no bench! Is this fair? This is atrocious! BJP got so many seats from West UP in Lok Sabha elections and yet see what reward it has got? No bench till now!
To put things in perspective, the elected representatives of West UP like Rajinder Aggarwal who is MP from Meerut demands 3 high court benches at Meerut, Agra and Gorakhpur in Parliament, Satyapal Singh who is MP from Baghpat and also Union Minister demanded 5 high court benches and so also Gen VK Singh who is also Union Minister and MP from Ghaziabad and but their own government is not prepared to set up even a single bench of high court in any hook and corner of not just West UP but entire UP for reasons known best to them! The more than 9 crore people of West UP always live in an atmosphere of getting killed or looted or raped or gangraped or being subjected to any other kind of crime as criminals here fear just no one. Still no bench!
Just recently, a 100 year old woman was raped in Meerut and she died within no time! A young girl of 7 to 8 years was gang raped in Muzaffarnagar and then killed and this keeps happening every now and then but inspite of being so close to Delhi, it never attracts the kind of attention that Nirbhaya gang rape case attracted! In Hapur a young girl of about 8 years was similarly raped and people protested strongly because no one was arrested! 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 and that too when her whole family accompanied her is nothing new!
Chief Justice of UP – Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale 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 now 4 high court benches, shall soon have 5 and UP only one as Justice Jaswant Commission were implemented in Maharashtra to set up a bench at Aurangabad but not in Agra 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!
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! Who is suffering most by this inaction? Girls, women and the common people who don’t have police protection with them unlike Ministers who are fully guarded always!
Truth be told, the latest violence in Kasjang near to Aligarh and the killing of a person and the subsequent huge burning of buses, trucks, buildings etc and fight breaking out on streets clearly indicates that how things are deteriorating from worse to worst in West UP and is the worst reminder that if most strong steps are not taken well in time, things will spiral completely out of control! In 2013 after the Muzaffarnagar riots in which again huge violence broke out and many were injured and killed and many displaced! Still we see no bench here!
Ban ki Moon who was earlier UN Secretary General had slammed UP and not Karnataka or Maharashtra or Assam as “rape and crime capital of India” still we see that UP has just one high court bench and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow and these 3 states have 3 to 4 benches each! Isn’t it shameful? Why different parameters for different capital cities? Why no high court or bench for Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Dehradun, Thiruvananthapuram and others? Why have they been singled out?
It is most disgraceful that more than half of pending cases are from West UP and still not a single bench of high court exists here. This despite the fact that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended 3 benches for West UP and hilly areas which now constitute a separate state named Uttarakhand but Centre for undisclosed reasons decided not to allow even a single bench anywhere in UP even though on its recommendations benches were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! This is plain ridiculous!
It is so shocking that Jawaharlal Nehru had the guts to set up a single high court bench for UP so close to Allahabad at Lucknow way back on July 1, 1948 but 70 years down the lane, no PM has shown the guts to create even a single high court bench anywhere else in West UP or in Bundelkhand or in Gorakhpur from where present CM Yogi Adityanath himself hails and who has been getting elected as MP since 1998 and had even raised the demand for a high court bench there inside Parliament but now even after coming close to completing one year in office, it seems he has chosen to just forget everything! Satyapal Singh who is former Mumbai Police Commissioner and represents BJP as MP from Baghpat and recently was sworn in as Union Minister had demanded right inside Parliament the setting up of 5 high court benches for UP at Meerut, Agra, Gorakhpur, Jhansi and Varanasi but what a pity that Centre is not ready to set up even a single bench anywhere in UP even as PM Narendra Modi is all set to complete 4 years in power after few months! This is the real tragedy!
Just recently a woman committed suicide in one of the district of West UP as she was being threatened by those who committed gang rape. Woman are being murdered, raped and gangraped! This has been happening time and again. West UP has become the epicenter of all crime, rape, dacoities, gangrapes, murders and still Centre is not prepared to set up even a single Bench of High Court for any of the 26 districts of West UP!
Why high court and benches of 8 states and even Lahore high court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad still no bench is being created here? Why West UP inspite of emerging as epicenter of murders, rapes, gangrapes and communal clashes still has no high court bench which only punishes victims especially woman who has been raped or gangraped to travel all the way about 700-800 km away to Allahabad to get delayed justice after few decades as Allahabad High Court is already overburdened with more than 10 lakh cases whereas no other state in India has more than 2 lakh pending cases and still some of them have 3 high court benches but UP has just one at Lucknow which is very close to Allahabad? How can all this be justified?
Why no steps are being taken to create a bench here even though it has been promised by many governments in Centre and by many Union Ministers? What stops Centre? Why Centre is ignoring that Soli J Sorabjee who is former Attorney General of India and one of the most reputed lawyer of Supreme Court had himself said that, “A high court bench in West UP can be created by Centre without the recommendation of the Chief Justice or State Government in this behalf”.
BN Krishnamani who is former Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association had himself said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in West UP can the people get justice here”! He was amazed that Lucknow has high court bench since 1948 but West UP not even seventy years later!
Why the population of West UP at more than 9 crore is more than all States except UP of which it is itself a part, Maharashtra and Bihar and here too the area of West UP at 98,000 square km is more than Bihar at 94,000 square km and still it has not been made a separate state? Why West UP accounts for more than half of pending cases of UP and still no attempt is being made to create it as a separate state or at least create a bench here? Why Karnataka with just 6 crore population which is 3 crore less than West UP has not just high court but 3 benches also but West UP with more than 9 crore population has not even a single bench leave alone a high court by making it a separate state?
Why Karnataka has not more than 2 lakh pending cases and West UP has more than 5 lakh pending cases still West UP has not even a single bench compelling litigants from West UP to travel whole night more than 700 km away often without reservation all the way to Allahabad and suffer untold miseries and Karnataka has a high court and 3 benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga? Why the 230th report of Law Commission was selectively implemented only in a peaceful state like Karnataka and not in a state like UP which former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon slammed as the “rape and crime capital of India” and which has maximum population more than Pakistan and many other countries, maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum Mayors, maximum villages more than 1 lakh, maximum towns, maximum tehsils, maximum pending cases more than 10 lakh, maximum pending cases in lower courts, maximum Judges, maximum crime, maximum dowry deaths, maximum rapes, maximum gangrapes, maximum custodial deaths, maximum PM since independence including the incumbent PM Narendra Modi who represents Varanasi, maximum delay in deciding of cases and what not and yet still has least high court benches in India? Why is West UP being accorded such a shabby and third rated treatment that the high courts and benches of 8 states and above all even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP than Allahabad still it has not even a single high court bench here?
The latest shocking Kasganj violence which witnessed naked dance of destruction, death, vandalism, loot and violence underscores the “complete jungleraj” prevailing in West UP yet no serious attempt is being made to create a high court bench here! Is there any logic in it? Why when Centre can create one more bench for Maharashtra which already has 3 benches then why can’t it create one bench at least in West UP?
The lawyers of West UP stopped working on February 15 after learning about it that a circuit bench of high court has been approved at Kolhapur in Maharashtra and resumed working from February 27 only after Gen VK Singh who is a Union Minister assured the lawyers that he would get a meeting of lawyers and PM to convince Modi of the dire need to set up a bench here! For how long will lawyers of West UP keep striking? Already the lawyers of West UP have been struggling since last more than 50 years for a bench and have gone on strike for 6 months also as in 2001, 3 to 4 months as in 2014-15 apart from the everySaturday since May 1981! Centre must relent at least now and create a bench here as it has done in Maharashtra so that the litigants are not compelled to travel whole night about 700 km on an average many times without reservation also all the way to attend court hearings at Allahabad! No more excuses! When Maharashtra can have 4 to 5 benches then why can’t UP have at least 3 to 4 or at least 2 benches? Why West UP has no high court bench even in 2018 when Lucknow can have bench since 1948 even though it was so close to Allaahabad? Centre must act impartially now!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.