To start with, I say this not as a lawyer of West UP but as a good citizen of India that the unending protest of lawyers of West UP severely affects the litigants who have to wait repeatedly to get justice. But who is responsible for this? It is not the lawyers of West UP but Centre itself who shamelessly since 1947 till 2018 has been cheating the more than 9 crore people of West UP by not setting up a high court bench in any of the 26 districts here!
The more than 9 crore people of West UP along with the about 1 crore people of hilly areas adjoining West UP now called Uttarakhand were openly stabbed in the chest by not granting even one high court bench not just in West UP but also in any of the hill districts of then forming part of UP! This despite the glaring fact that the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by none other than Centre itself way back in late 1970s had very strongly recommended 3 high court benches for UP – 2 in hilly areas of now Uttarakhand – Dehradun and Nainital and one in West UP – Agra where the high court was itself located from 1866 to 1869! The people of hilly areas had to travel thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad but Centre still didn’t approve a bench for them which ultimately culminated in waging of violent agitation for a separate state and then in 2000 Centre succumbed and created a state for them giving them high court itself!
All this could have been prevented if high court bench was earlier approved for them at Dehradun and Nainital! Centre for undisclosed reasons stupidly and treacherously decided not to create even a single bench not just in West UP but also in any of the hill districts nor in any other part of UP like in Jhansi in Bundelkhand! But simultaneously it decided to create a high court bench promptly at Aurangabad in Maharashtra which already had benches at Panaji and Nagpur and also at Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! How can any sane person justify this?
Even now things didn’t end here only! BJP too decided to create one more high court bench at Kolhapur in Maharashtra for just 6 districts few months back which culminated in lawyers of West UP going on strike in protest against this raw discrimination that for 26 districts of West UP not a single bench of high court is being approved but for Maharashtra which already has 3 benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji one more bench is approved for just 6 districts! Why such a shabby step motherly treatment for West UP in particular? Does Centre want West UP also to go the Uttarakhand way? It must specify!
To register its strong protest against this shabby and raw treatment, the lawyers of West UP did no work on May 23 and decided to mobilize against UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s visit to Kairana in West UP. On May 24, the lawyers of West UP will not just be on strike but all lawyers would register their strong protest against West UP being denied a high court bench even after making tall promises during election time! But BJP appears unfazed and is determined that the unique record set by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of creating a single high court bench on July 1, 1948 more than seventy years ago at Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad where main high court is located should not be broken under any circumstances! This alone explains why more than 4 years have passed since BJP came to power in Centre but it has just smirked at West UP and done nothing to address the age old demand of lawyers of West UP of setting up a high court bench here in any of the 26 districts!
PM Narendra Modi keeps criticizing Jawaharlal Nehru every now and then but he too is determined that some unique records set up by him like imposing monogamy only on Hindus, treating Jammu and Kashmir as different from India by giving them separate flag, separate Constitution, separate laws etc over which even former CJI JS Khehar had expressed his unhappiness should not be disturbed at all! Above all, PM Modi feels that Nehru’s great record to have just one high court bench at Lucknow alone should never be disturbed and UP should have no more benches even though it is UP which is notorious as “rape and crime capital of India” and tops among all states in having maximum pending cases which is more than 10 states put together!
Here too West UP accounts for more than 57% of pending cases as was recorded by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission who recommended 3 high court benches for UP at Nainital, Dehradun and Agra but Centre then led by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi who had set up Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to look into where all high court benches are needed decided to not set up even a single bench in UP even though on its recommendations benches were approved at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! PM Narendra Modi too is following Mrs Indira Gandhi’s footsteps and not approving a single high court bench here not just in West UP but in any part of UP even though Union Ministers in his Cabinet like Dr Satyapal Singh, Gen VK Singh, Mahesh Sharma among others keep demanding bench for West UP in Parliament itself!
It is India’s misfortune that UP which has the maximum population more than 22 crore as Yogi Adityanath who is UP CM and PM Narendra Damodardas Modi keeps proudly declaring time and again, has maximum villages more than one lakh whereas in other states the number of villages don’t exceed 5000 or 6000 at the most, has maximum pending cases about 10 lakh cases as per official figures whereas other states like Karnataka which has 3 high court benches, Maharashtra which has 4 high court benches, Assam which has 4 high court benches, etc even though they have less than 1 lakh pending cases, UP has maximum districts 75 whereas other states have just about 25 or 30 on an average, UP has maximum MPs, maximum MLAs both in Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad, maximum Mayors, maximum towns, maximum pending cases in lower courts more than 60,000 lakh pending cases whereas other states have comparatively much lesser figures, UP has given maximum PM to India including the incumbent Narendra Modi who is MP from Varanasi, maximum poverty, maximum crime, maximum riots, maximum killings, maximum rape, assault and other crimes against women, etc and is one of the biggest states of India yet has just one high court bench created way back in 1948 on at Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad where the high court itself is located! Seventy years have lapsed but till now in April 2018 no bench has been created in any other part of UP even though the former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed UP as the “rape and crime capital of India”!
Lamentably, even small states like Sikkim, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, etc with just about 6 lakh population, 29 lakh , 36 lakh, 27 lakh have high courts but West UP with more than 9 crore population has not even a single bench of high court! Even Andaman and Nicobar islands with just 3 lakh population has bench but not West UP! West UP accounts for more than half of pending cases of total pending cases of UP about 17 lakh cases as reported in Hindi newspaper of Hindustan dated 17 April 2018 which can be independently verified and which owes for maximum riots, killings, rapes, gang rapes etc still it has not a single bench! Who is the jurist in India or in any other part of world who will still justify that West UP should have no bench nor Bundelkhand but only Lucknow so close to Allahabad just 200 km away alone should have bench as we see since 1948! This is atrocious! People of West UP are compelled to travel more than 700-800 km all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench here! Allahabad High Court has maximum pending cases and still it has just one bench! On what ground can this be justified?
Let me be direct in saying: West UP is notorious for riots breaking out at the drop of a hat like we saw during Kasganj riots, Muzaffarnagar riots, Meerut riots, Agra riots, Saharanpur riots, Bareilly riots etc still there is 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!
Even lawyers in Allahabad are not safe. We saw how recently a young lawyer aged 45 was shot dead while he was going to court! Criminals have become fearless because UP has maximum pending cases and it takes ages for cases to be decided! Still why should UP have minimum benches in India and why should more than half of Judges post keep lying vacant! Why this step-motherly treatment with judiciary and in particular with West UP and Allahabad High Court? Why 4 benches for peaceful states like Maharashtra and just one bench for UP which owes for maximum pending cases and maximum crime cases all over India?
To say the least, West UP which has more than 9 crore population which is more than the population of all states except Bihar and Maharashtra and UP of which it is itself a part and here too the area of West UP with 98,000 square kilometers is more than that of Bihar with 94,000 square kilometers still it has no high court bench! The people are compelled to travel more than 700 to 800 kilometers all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench in any of the 26 districts of West UP! In other words, the litigants of West UP have to travel whole night without reservation many times when they can’t get reservation to attend court hearings at Allahabad and bear all sorts of inconveniences in finding a suitable room to stay for few days!
Truth be told, if a high court bench was there in any of the 26 districts of West UP they would have been saved from all these inconveniences and their precious money would also have been saved from being wasted! Those lawyers of Allahabad who argue that now there is facility of plane when anyone can travel anywhere and reach in no time must understand that the majority of litigants are not so rich that they can spend so much of money in travelling only and then spend much more in hiring good lawyers etc! It is for their benefit that the lawyers of West UP are agitating for a high court bench in West UP!
Bluntly put, what was the need for a high court bench in Lucknow which is so near to Allahabad? If Lucknow is capital then so is Bhopal which is capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhubaneshwar which is capital of Odisha, Thiruvananthapuram which is capital of Kerala, Dehradun which is capital of Uttarakhand etc but all these places have neither high court nor bench! Lawyers of West UP have never objected to a bench in Lucknow but have only legitimately demanded that when a bench can exist so close to Allahabad then why can’t it exist so far away in any of the 26 districts of West UP?
Needless to say, this is the main reason why the lawyers of West UP have been regularly striking every since May 1981. Lamentably now even in May 2018 strikes are still continuing! Lawyers of West UP went on 6 months strike from July to December in 2001, went on strike for 3 to 4 months in 2014-15, on one month strike in 2010 apart from many other strikes in many other years! Now again on 28 April there was a collective fast in Meerut attended by even BJP leaders from West UP demanding the creation of a high court bench here still BJP at Centre is determined not to approve a single bench more for UP!
On 23 May no work by lawyers of West UP who were busy galvanizing support for opposing UP CM for not conceding a bench here and on May 24 again strike and lawyers of West UP are busy opposing BJP leader and UP CM Yogi Adityanath for not creating a bench in West UP instead of working in court for which Centre itself is responsible! Why when Dr Sampoornanand who was UP CM in 1955 had recommended a high court bench in Meerut was it refused by Centre? Why many other UP CMs also recommended for the same including Mayawati who even recommended statehood for West UP but still not even a bench was approved? It is most hurting to see that Yogi Adityanath who is now UP CM had himself raised the demand for a high court bench in Gorakhpur which he represented as MP in 1998 but now even after being in power in UP he has done just nothing to create a bench even in his own constituency! No wonder, BJP just recently lost there as also in Phulpur which is UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya bastion! Still BJP is not waking up!
Why in 2018 for UP the recommendation made by Law Commission of India in its 4th report in 1955 being adhered to which opposed that high courts should sit at benches in different parts of the states even though in other states like Karnataka 2 more benches were created at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts apart from the one already at Hubli and in Maharashtra also which already had benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad, Panaji and now at Kolhapur for just 6 districts but for 26 districts of West UP just no bench approved even though the Law Commission of India in its 230th report recommended creation of more high court benches but UP along with other big states like Rajasthan, Odisha and Bihar were left in the cold? Most shocking!
It is most shocking to learn that the high court and benches of 8 states in India are closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad. As for instance Delhi High Court is just 70 km from Meerut in West UP, Gwalior bench in MP is just about 368 km, Chandigarh high court is just 239 km, Shimla high court is just 336 km, Jaipur bench of Rajasthan high court is just 333 km, Nainital high court is just 249 km and worst of all even Lahore high court in Pakistan is just 500 km whereas Allahabad is about 705 km from Meerut even though the distance of other districts like Saharanpur to Allahabad is much more!
None other than former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had himself as Opposition leader way back on in 1986 had raised the demand for a high court bench in West UP along with MP Ashwani Kumar in Rajya Sabha! Legal giants like Ram Jethmalani, Soli J Sorabjee, Kapil Sibal etc have time and again reiterated the dire need for a bench in West UP! Soli J Sorabjee had clearly stated while he was Attorney General in 2001 that, “Centre can create a high court bench in West UP without any recommendation from the State Government or Chief Justice.” Former Union Minister RPN Singh had proudly pointed out that former Law Minister Kapil Sibal even recommended high court bench in Meerut while he was Law Minister but the then UP CM Akhilesh Yadav didn’t pay heed!
As per the Section 51 of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the Centre can create a high court bench in any of these 3 states – UP, Bihar and J&K directly by bringing it up in Parliament. Centre does not need any recommendation from State Government or the Chief Justice as has been very wrongly propagated for many decades! What a national disgrace that these very 3 states – Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar keep on coming the national headlines for all the wrong reasons as crime incidents keep multiplying very rapidly and what is worst is Centre’s stupid and crazy determination to not allow a single more bench in all these 3 states! Bihar is famous as a lawless state yet Centre has not created even a single high court bench here ever since Ranchi bench separated after Jharkhand became a state in 2000 and it became a high court and same is the case with UP and Jammu and Kashmir!
No doubt, UP is the worst of all states! Just recently a 16 year old girl in Kanpur is burnt alive for just drawing water from hand pump because criminals know that UP is overburdened with so many pending cases and Centre is doing just nothing to address it so they can easily get away with impunity as it will take many decades for case to be decided even in lower courts! Most hurting!
As if this is not enough, an 18 year old girl is burnt alive in Unnao from where a BJP MLA which is in power in UP has been arrested on gang rape charges just recently whose father was instead arrested and beaten in police station where he later succumbed to his injuries! Rapes and gangrapes and burning of girls and women are becoming the norm in UP which is so shocking but still not one bench is being created any where in UP! Just recently even a blind girl was not spared in Ghaziabad and 10 days after her father died she was raped and landlord asked her to approach police but before that evict house!
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!
The list of such hapless girls and women undergoing unending woes and interminable sufferings is endless yet we see Centre has not allowed a single bench not just in West UP but any where in any part of UP even though it has approved one more bench at Kolhapur in Maharashtra which already had 3 benches! None other than UP Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale while condemning the law and order situation in UP where he says that law and order situation in the state has been destroyed while proudly hailing his home state Maharashtra where he says “law and order situation in Maharashtra is so good that women can go out alone anywhere without any fear even in night hours” yet see the unpalatable irony that Maharashtra now has 4 benches with one more being approved at Kolhapur for just 6 districts but UP has just one very near to Allahabad and not anywhere else like in Bundelkhand region in Jhansi or in Gorakhpur or in Meerut or in Agra or at any other place!
What a pity that criminals are ruling the roost here 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!
All said and done, Allahabad High Court is one of oldest High Courts in not just India but also in Asia which completed 150 years in 2016 and also one of the biggest yet we see that leave alone benches even the number of Judges strength has not been increased and even most of the sanctioned posts which is more than half keeps lying vacant! Even the lawyers of Calcutta high court have been on strike for more than 2 months as many Judges post are lying vacant and so were lawyers of Odisha high court for the same reason! Why are more Judges not being appointed in time?
Where is our nation heading if victims don’t get justice in time because of Judges not being appointed, benches not being created in big and lawless states like UP, Bihar and J&K even though Centre has full power to create any number of benches in these 3 states anytime when it wants? Lawlessness will obviously increase further with no fear among criminals of ever being brought to book! Which self-respecting Indian will feel happy to see all this?
Why is Centre now in power in all these 3 states doing nothing to address people’s especially women’s and most of all victim girls endless woes by at least setting up more high court benches so that they are not compelled to travel so far away and once again fall prey to some other criminal! Centre is solely responsible for it and still is doing absolutely nothing to address it by taking laudable steps like setting up more high court benches, appointing more Judges, appointing more court staff and spending more on improving the infrastructure of court which is abysmal because of very miserly amount being spent on it since 1947 till 2018!
If a high court bench cannot be set up in West UP which is most lawless as we see till now and from where litigants are compelled to travel so far at Allahabad about 700 km away on an average then certainly all the high court benches in India must be disbanded and what some Allahabad High Court lawyers keep demanding that, “One state, one high court” must be strictly implemented uniformly in all states! Now it is for Centre to decide for itself the right course of action! It cannot continue any longer with this status quo policy which has already bleeded India since many decades!
This status quo policy of last 70 years followed till now for UP will destroy not just UP which is the heart of India but the whole of India as when heart fails the whole body goes for a toss! Will Centre question this also? Why is BJP adamant that what Nehru did by creating just one bench at Lucknow in 1948 should not be changed even 70 years later in 2018? Still how shamelessly can BJP call itself as “a party with a difference”?
It must see the clear writing on the wall and create more benches now especially in West UP! No more delay now in doing this! 230th report of Law Commission favoured creation of more benches not just for Karnataka or Maharashtra but for other big lawless states also like UP which has maximum pending cases and Bihar! But BJP is determined like Congress earlier to not allow even a single more bench in UP for reasons which are undisclosed till now! Has BJP gone crazy?
Most shockingly, 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 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 37 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?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.