SC Must Now Order Creation Of More HC Benches In UP

It is most shocking, most disgusting and most disheartening to read that once again criminals are ruling the roost and making the headlines in UP. The latest incident pertains to kidnapping cum murder of a 28 year-old technician named Sanjeet Yadav who worked in a private lab. What is worse is that criminals even took 30 lakh rupees from the deceased Sanjeet Yadav’s family as the family allege after cops told them to do so and still they murdered him most mercilessly! Prior to this we saw how a journalist Vikram Joshi was brutally killed right in front of his two daughters in Ghaziabad’s Vijay Nagar! In Meerut a mother and a daughter are brutally killed! There is no fear of law in West UP among criminals still there is not a single high court bench here!

Just appointing panel or committee to probe into the crime as we saw in case of dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey headed by a former Supreme Court who along with his men killed 8 policemen and wounded several others and who was roaming free inspite of being a history sheeter with more than 60 criminal cases pending against him is a mere superficial exercise which won’t address the root of the problem! Why panel or probe only when criminals are killed? Why not when a journalist or sadhu as we saw in Palghar where two sadhus were mercilessly tortured and beaten to death or when a common man is killed?

It is not for nothing that the former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon had termed UP as the “rape and crime capital of India! It is not for nothing or not for fun that the incumbent UP CM Yogi Adityanath had himself demanded High Court Bench at Gorakhpur way back in 1999 while he was MP from there! It is not for nothing that many UP CMs like Sampoornanand, ND Tiwari, Rajnath Singh and others have earlier recommended the creation of a high court bench in West UP! It is not for nothing that former UP CM Mayawati had recommended UP to be partitioned and also recommended a high court bench for West UP!

It is not OK that when Sampoornanand who was UP CM recommended creation of a high court bench in West UP at Meerut, the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru overruled him as he felt only Lucknow was ideal place where bench was created on July 1, 1948 by him even though it was so close to Allahabad where high court is located! It is not OK that when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Jaswant Singh was appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi to look into where all high court benches are needed in late 1970s and when he recommended 3 benches for UP at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun, not a single bench was created even though benches were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra which already had two benches, at Madurai in Tamil Nadu and at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! It is not OK that once again in 2018 Centre decided to create one more high court bench in Maharashtra for just 6 districts at Kolhapur but not a single for West UP or even the whole of UP! Why is UP repeatedly slapped on its face and not a single more bench approved especially when lawyers of West UP have been repeatedly agitating for the same since last more than 6 decades?

It is not OK that when lawyers of West UP went on strike for 6 months from July to December in 2001, Centre did not take any step to address their demand for a high court bench in West UP inspite of assuring them! It is not OK that when lawyers of West UP again went on strike later, Centre assured them that their grievances would be looked into but suddenly came forward with ridiculous decision to create 2 more high court benches for Karnataka at Gulbarga and Dharwad for just 4 and 8 districts and which already had a bench at Hubli but not a single for the 26 districts of West UP! It is not OK that when lawyers of West UP went on strike for 3 to 4 months in 2014-15, the Centre assures them that their demand would be looked into but yet again nothing is done! It is not OK that the lawyers of West UP have boycotted work many times in last 50 years sometimes for 2 days in a week – Wednesday and Saturday yet not a single bench set up here!

It is no ordinary matter that the lawyers of West UP have been on strike uninterruptedly every Saturday since May 1981  till now which means for more than 39 years against denying West UP even a single bench of high court! It is no ordinary matter that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had disclosed that 57% of pending cases are from West UP and still it has not even a single bench of high court! It is no ordinary matter that the more than 9 crore people of West UP have to perforce travel more than 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad to get justice as the elected representatives have only made tall promises but never cared to implement it!

It is a national disgrace that UP which has maximum pending cases in India among all the states which is more than 10 states put together has just one high court bench and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad where high court itself is located at Lucknow and nowhere else! It is a national disgrace that UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 23 crore, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies,  maximum MPs – 80, maximum MLAs – 404, maximum PM including Narendra Modi who represents Varanasi as an MP, maximum pending cases – more than 10 lakh and here too West UP accounts for more than half of pending cases as noted by Justice Jaswant Commission about 57%, maximum Judges both in High Court – 160 and also in lower courts, maximum vacancies of Judges, maximum members in UP Bar Council and which is the largest Bar Council in the world yet the former Chairman of UP Bar Council – Darvesh Yadav who was first woman to get appointed to this post was murdered right in court premises in Agra, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum fake encounters killings, maximum custody killings, maximum dowry cases, maximum bride burning cases, maximum cases of human rights violations, maximum robberies, maximum dacoities, maximum undertrials, maximum cases of crime, loot, arson and riots and here too West UP tops with Saharanpur riots, Meerut riots, Muzaffarnagar riots tarnishing our international reputation to the extent that former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon termed UP as “crime and rape capital” of India and what not yet Centre till now from 1948 when a bench was created in Lucknow which is so close to Allahabad is not prepared to create even a single bench for not just West UP but for entire UP? It is a national disgrace that UP sends maximum MPs to Lok Sabha – 80, maximum MPs to Rajya Sabha – 30, maximum MLAs to State Assembly – 404 MLAs and maximum members to State Legislative Council – 100 MLAs and what not yet has least benches just one? It is a national disgrace that inspite of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee having vociferously raised the demand for a high court bench in West UP in 1986 right inside Parliament still 34 years later not a singler bench created not just in West UP but in any hook and corner of UP except Lucknow created by Nehru in 1948!

How long will Centre ignore that only Karnataka and Maharashtra have gained from the recommendations of 230th Law Commission recommendations when 2 more benches were created at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts even though the pending cases of Karnataka are just less than 2 lakh and that of UP are more than 10 lakhs and that of West UP alone are more than 5 lakhs still West UP has no bench and UP has just one bench? How long will Centre ignore that Karnataka has just 6 crore population and still it has high court at Bangalore and 3 high court benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga but West UP has population of more than 9 crores still it has not even a single bench leave alone having high court? How long will Centre ignore that the High Courts and Benches of 8 states are nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court and even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP than Allahabad? How long will Centre ignore that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia with  maximum Judges and also among the oldest courts which completed its 150 years on March 17, 2016 yet has just one bench only?

It is most shameful and most disgraceful that Allahabad High Court has the dubious distinction of accounting for 14,207, or 98% of a total of 14,484 appeals that are pending adjudication for more than 30 years as was noted by a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat and yet no Prime Minister starting from Jawaharlal Nehru to present Narendra Modi has ever dared to create one more Bench apart from the one at Lucknow! What a pity that an anguished Supreme Court said that, “These facts pose a challenge to the judicial system, inasmuch as the right to speedy trial would also include the right to speedy disposal of appeals of those convicted. If such appeals are not taken up for hearing within a reasonable time, the right of appeal itself would be illusory, inasmuch as incarcerated convicts (who are denied bail) would have undergone a major part, if not whole of the period, of their sentences!”

To be sure, Justices Rao and Bhat also noted that over 33,000 appeals were pending in these 10 High Courts for a period between 20 to 30 years, and again Allahabad High Court had the lion’s share accounting for nearly 20,000 of them. The appeals waiting their turn to be heard for the last 10 to 20 years numbered at 2,35,914 of which 88,732 were in Allahabad High Court! Why should all such steps not be taken to put our judicial system back on rails and not allow it to be in ventilator as most unfortunately we have allowed in last 74 years! Why can’t more high court benches be created in UP so that cases are expedited in different benches as was recommended by the 230th report of Law Commission of India as UP has maximum pending cases in India but which till now has been implemented only in Karnataka and Maharashtra which is most shocking?

Why when former CJI Ranjan Gogoi while deciding on a PIL brought by a woman lawyer KL Chitra for a high court bench in West UP fully appreciated the reasons for setting up a high court bench in West UP but added that it is for Centre to take a decision and yet even after 74 years of independence if Centre fails to act not just for West UP but for whole of UP should Supreme Court not take suo motu action and order for more benches not just in West UP but also in other different parts like Jhansi in Bundelkhand, Gorakhpur in Purvanchal and other needy places? Why Supreme Court never acts on this? It must act now most decisively as this serious issue directly concerns the judiciary! No more dilly-dallying now!

Sanjeev Sirohi

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