What a shame that Jawaharlal Nehru had the great guts to create a high court bench in Lucknow on July 1, 1948 about 71 years ago which is just 200 km away from Allahabad where main high court is located but no PM had the guts to create a high court bench thousands of kilometers away at any of the 13 districts in hilly areas which now constitute a separate state called Uttarakhand and the people then numbering 88 lakh living there had to travel so far for more than 50 years after independence which led to resentment and agitation of a separate state and now it has a high court nor at any other district in UP!
Why Is CJI So Conspicuously Silent On More High Court Benches?
It is a matter of greatest national shame that Uttar Pradesh which is the biggest state amongst all the states in India with maximum population at more than 22 crore as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi keep proudly bragging about at public rallies time and again which is more than even that of Pakistan and many other countries, maximum MPs in Lok Sabha at 80, maximum MPs in Rajya Sabha at 31, maximum MLAs in Vidhan Sabha at 404, maximum MLAs in Vidhan Parishad at 100, maximum Judges at lower courts at more than 5000, maximum Judges in High Courts at 160, maximum pending cases in lower courts at more than 50 lakhs, maximum pending cases in high court at more than 10 lakh, maximum members in UP Bar Council which is more than one lakh which is the highest not just in India but in the whole world as is pointed out in the website of UP Bar Council itself, maximum Mayors, maximum villages which is again more than one lakh, maximum tehsils, maximum Mayors, maximum constituencies at 80, maximum districts at 75, maximum poverty and what not yet has least high court benches in India – only one and that too just about 200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow!
Why is it that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Jaswant Singh had in late 1970s recommended 3 high court benches at Agra, Dehradun and Nainital but Centre did not approve even a single bench for UP even though it created bench at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu on its recommendations? Why former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed UP as the “rape and crime capital” of India when he was in office but our law makers never felt it necessary to create even a single more bench for any other district in UP other than Lucknow where it was created way back in 1948? Why peaceful states like Karnataka has 3 high court benches, Assam has 4 high court benches, Maharashtra has 4 high court benches but UP which has maximum pending cases at more than 10 lakh cases in high courts even though other states have just 1 or less than 2 lakh pending cases yet they have so many high court benches but UP has just one?
Why is it that West UP which owes for more than 57% of the total pending cases of UP as acknowledged by the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission itself has not even a single bench of high court in any of the 26 districts? Why is it that the situation in West UP is so lawless which can be gauged from this that the newly elected Chairperson of UP Bar Council – Darvesh Singh Yadav was shot dead right inside court premises just three days after being elected just recently on June 12, 2019 yet West UP has not even a single bench of high court? Why is it that the former UP High Court Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale who hails from Maharashtra in a heinous case involving rape of few women on national highway in Bulandshahr in West UP had rightly said as Chief Justice of Allahabad high Court that there is total lawlessness in UP as compared to Maharashtra where women can travel alone in night anywhere without any fear but still see the crowning irony that Maharashtra has 4 high court benches at Panaji, Nagpur, Aurangabad and latest at Kolhapur for just 6 districts but for UP just a single bench since 1948? When peaceful states like Maharashtra can get benches in no time then why Allahabad High Court in UP which has maximum pending cases in India has been denied its due share unfairly for such a long time?
One cannot but fully agree with Chief Justice of India – Ranjan Gogoi that the number of Judges must be increased and the retirement age of High Court Judges must also be increased from 62 to 65 but what about High Court Benches? Why is CJI so conspicuously silent on such a sensitive issue? Why is it that CJI Ranjan Gogoi fully admired that KL Chitra a woman advocate who filed a PIL pleading for a high court bench in West UP last year was right that there is a valid reason for creating a bench in West UP but declined to entertain it as he said that it is for the Centre to do so knowing fully well that Centre has done nothing in last more than 70 years even after the historic recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission of creating 3 benches in UP but not a single bench was created in any hook and corner of UP?
Why is it that CJI ignores that the 230threport of Law Commission of India recommended more high court benches for states? Why CJI ignores that Centre created 2 more high court benches for Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts in 2008 first as circuit benches which were made permanent in 2012 apart from the bench at Hubli but for UP not a single bench created till now in 2019 even though Karnataka has less than 2 lakh pending cases and UP has more than 10 lakh pending cases and here too West UP alone has more than 5 lakh pending cases in high court? Why CJI does not writer about this to Centre?
Why the lawyers of more than 20 districts of West UP keep going on strike for last nearly 40 years from May 1981 till now every Saturday protesting the denial of bench but CJI does not deem it fit to mention it to Centre? Why the lawyers of West UP even went on strike for 6 months in 2001 and earlier also similarly and not stopping here even went on strike for 3 months in 2014-15 also and for nearly a month every year but still West UP has no bench? Why is it that litigants of West UP are compelled to travel more than 800 to 900 km away to Allahabad to attend cases as there is no high court bench in West UP yet CJI says nothing on it?
Why is it that West UP always remains in the news for wrong reasons for brutal crimes and still CJI doesn’t write to Centre demanding high court bench for it? Why is it that the population of West UP at more than 9 crore is more than all states except UP of which it is a part, Maharashtra and Bihar and here too areawise West UP at 98,933 square km is bigger than Bihar which has just 94,000 square km but still has not even a bench? Why CJI does not point out that so many UP CM like Sampoornanand had recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut in 1955 but till now not a single bench created anywhere in any of the 26 districts of West UP? Why CJI does not point out that even small islands like Andaman and Nicobar islands have high court bench with just 3 lakh population at Port Blair but West UP with more than 9 crore population has none?
Why CJI does not recommend more benches for other lawless states like Bihar which has none even though we daily keep listening news of horrifying crimes in different districts of Bihar? Why other big states like Odisha has no high court bench even though the lawyers of Western districts keep protesting for a bench frequently, why Rajasthan has just one high court bench at Jaipur alone and not at other places like Udaipur where lawyers keep demanding the same? Why only a few big states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam have either 3 or more than 3 benches? Why not others who either have just one or have none? Why can’t this glaring and shameful indiscrepancy be corrected immediately?
What a crying shame that UP CM Yogi Adityanath government has the ability to bear Rs 36,000-crore for construction of 600 km Ganga Expressway for better connectivity of Allahabad with western districts of the state and which will be the longest expressway in the world but it can’t spare just a few crores for creating a high court bench in lawless West UP or at Bundelkhand or at any other deserving place so that people are not compelled to travel so far and waste huge money in doing so for various expenses like staying, travelling, etc! Why can’t Centre take serious steps to address this cancerous problem of law and order in UP root and branch by creating more benches here and just resorting to baby steps and bandaid measures like reducing time limit to reach Dlhi by about an hour or so by spending more than 20 crores on creating 14 lane national highways? Why can’t CJI direct Centre to do so accordingly?
Why is CJI so conspicuously silent on more high court benches not just in UP but in other different states also like Bihar from where the present Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hails? Why only a few states are enjoying the right to speedy justice, justice at doorsteps and cheap justice? Why big states like UP, Bihar and others are being wrongly deprived of the same?
Let me again reiterate that there can be no denying or disputing what CJI says regarding increasing the number of Judges in Supreme Court and High Court and age also of High Court Judges but this alone is not enough to ensure that people get justice easily and cheaply! More high court benches also must be created for big states like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and others as was very rightly recommended by the 230th report of Law Commission of India more than 10 years ago but which has been implemented only in Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal! Why UP which has maximum pending cases and other states left out in the cold?
Should the CJI not speak out most vociferously on this also? Who can deny that Allahabad High Court is the biggest high court not just in India but in whole of Asia yet has just one bench which is so close at Lucknow and is also one of the oldest high court which completed its 150 year of creation in 2016? Who can deny that Bar Council of UP has maximum members in whole world yet UP has just one bench and here too West UP which owes for more than half of pending cases has none? Can this be justified on any ground and under any circumstances? Certainly not! Allahabad High Court must get its due share as it has maximum pending cases, maximum Judges and what not! It must have maximum benches in India and not minimum as most unfortunately we have been seeing since last 72 years! It is CJI’s moral and constitutional duty to point out in detail about this to the Centre and if still Centre does not act then the CJI must most promptly order the creation of a high court bench in any of the 26 districts of West UP and also at other suitable places in different deserving states like Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan! It brooks no more delay anymore now!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.