How long did Jawaharlal Nehru take to create a high court bench at Lucknow on July 1, 1948? Less than a year! How long will Centre take to create a high court bench in West UP? 72 years have already lapsed but Centre inspite of receiving massive mandate also from the more than 9 crore people living here is just not ready to budge and shamelessly insists that India will cease to be a truly democratic country if it agrees to create a high court bench at any place other than Lucknow which alone explains that why all the governments ruling in Centre have proudly refused to even implement the landmark recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to create 3 high court benches in Agra in West UP and also at Dehradun and Nainital which till 2000 formed part of UP!
When people of Uttarakhand started agitation, Centre proudly announced that for the 88 lakh people of Uttarakhand it is ready to give statehood but as long as it remains part of UP it will not give it even a single bench and people living there would have just no option but to travel thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad to attend court hearings! Centre happily gave high court for people of Uttarakhand at Nainital but as long as it remained a part of UP not a single bench was granted despite the landmark recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to do so at Dehradun and Nainital! Can any jurist or even any sane person agree with this stupid stand? Why no bench was created for hilly districts for more than 50 years which compelled people to start agitation for a separate state?
Why is Centre provoking the more than 9 crore people of West UP to start agitating for a separate state by doing exactly what the previous governments in Centre did to not allow any bench in any corner of UP other than at Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad where high court is located? Why Centre happily allowed the creation of a bench for just 5 districts at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal which already had a bench for just 3 lakh people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and similarly for Madurai in Tamil Nadu and at Aurangabad in Maharashtra in 1985 as recommended by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission but why Centre considers more than 9 crore people of West UP living in 26 districts as totally unfit to get even a bench and justifies people living here travelling for more than 700-800 km all the way to Allahabad and that is why it refuses to implement Justice Jaswant Commission report for West UP? Is this is what Article 14 which talks about right to equality stands for? If Centre says yes then I would dare say that Article 14 should be kicked out of our Constitution!
How long will Centre keep citing the lame excuse as it has been doing since past 72 years that it is not getting recommendation from the State Chief Justice or State Chief Minister for creating a bench in West UP or in any other part of UP? How long will Centre turn a blind eye to Section 51 of the State Reorganisation Act of 1956 which postulates that Centre can create a high court bench for UP, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir by directly bringing it up in Parliament? How long will Centre keep creating more benches in other states as it did in Maharashtra where it created a bench at Kolhapur for just 6 districts which already had 3 benches at Panaji, Nagpur and Aurangabad, in Assam which earlier had 7 benches and now has 4 benches after Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura were granted separate high court in 2012, in Karnataka which already had a bench at Hubli yet Centre approved 2 more benches at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts respectively but is not ready to concede even a single bench for 26 districts of West UP?
How long will Centre like a shameless mute spectator just keep watching the law and order situation in West UP from turning more and more lawless? How long will Centre overlook the repeated merciless murder of lawyers in West UP? How long will Centre overlook the repeated ghastly attacks on policemen in West UP in which many times they are either grievously wounded or killed? It would not be incorrect to say that the time to act is now. Else Ghalib’s lament, “Hum ne maana ki taghaful na karoge lekin, khaaq ho jayenge ham tum ko khabar hote tak, (I know you may not neglect me/but it may be too late by the time you act)” might just ring true! The million dollar question is: For how long will Centre just wait?
How long will Centre overlook that many UP CM have in the past recommended that high court bench must be created in West UP at the earliest? How long will Centre overlook that it was Sampoornanand who had first recommended the creation of a high court bench in West UP at Meerut in 1955 after more than 100 elected representatives from West UP met him and apprised him of the need for the same? How long will Centre ignore that even former UP CM ND Tiwari, Rajnath Singh among others had recommended as UP CM that West UP must have its own high court bench? How long will Centre justify denial of bench to 26 districts of West UP while simultaneously also creating benches for just 4 or 5 or 6 districts in different states of India?
Come to think of it, it is a matter of greatest national shame and most shocking 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 elected representatives at all levels including villages like Sarpanch, maximum villages which is again more than one lakh, maximum tehsils at 350, 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! 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 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 another lady advocate Kuljeet Kaur who was a Supreme Court lawyer and wife of a retired Army Officer has been found murdered in less than a month after UP Bar Council former Chairperson Darvesh Yadav’s murder right inside her house in Noida in West UP which prompted the Honorary Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association to write to UP CM seeking protection of live and properties of the advocates and to say that, “This murder exposes the serious slackness in law and order situation in Noida.”
Where is Noida located? It is in West UP where Centre for undisclosed reasons has been shamelessly opposing the creation of a bench in any of the 26 districts and the people living here are compelled to travel whole night all the way to Allahabad to attend court hearings as there is no bench here! Why Centre is totally unmoved by repeated incidents of murder of lawyers, police officers, women among others and can’t be generous enough to create a high court bench in West UP?
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?
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 Centre does not deem it fit to even consider it most seriously? Why the lawyers of West UP even went on strike for 6 months in 2001 and earlier also several times similarly and not stopping here even went on strike for 3 months in 2014-15 also and for nearly a month every year time and again 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 even the repeated murder of lawyers, police officers and others fail to shake Centre to do anything on this score?
Why is it that West UP always remains in the news for wrong reasons for brutal crimes and still Centre never orders creation of a 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? 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 as Centre is just not ready for it!
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 not just resorting to baby steps, gimmickry and bandaid measures like reducing time limit to reach Delhi by about an hour or so by spending more than 20 crores on creating 14 lane national highways? Why can’t Centre direct UP government to immediately create a bench in West UP? Who is stopping Centre?
How long will Centre just admonish UP CM Yogi Adityanath that he cannot do anything on this just like it admonished him for placing 17 castes in SC list as it is the Parliament’s jurisdiction and State cannot on its own do so but itself will just do absolutely nothing to create a high court bench in West UP even as the law and order situation is turning from worse to worst and even though many of its elected MPs, Union Ministers like Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Gen VK Singh, Sanjeev Baliyan and many other former Union Ministers also like Dr Mahesh Sharma, Satyapal Singh among others who have all spoken in one voice demanding the creation of a high court bench in West UP and have repeatedly raised this legitimate and crying demand in Parliament also? How long will Centre be just happy by dropping upright former Union Minister like Satyapal Singh who had demanded the creation of 5 high court benches in UP at Meerut, Agra, Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Varanasi and ensure that not a single bench is created not just in West UP but in whole of UP other than the one at Lucknow created by Nehru in 1948?
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 its former Chairperson Darvesh Yadav just within three days of being elected is brutally murdered right inside court premises by pumping three bullets on her? Who can deny that even Supreme Court lawyers are not safe in West UP and this stands vindicated by the recent brutal murder of lady advocate Kuljeet Kaur in Noida in West UP right inside her house? Who can deny that many senior lawyers in the past also have been brutally murdered not just in West UP but in other parts also as we saw in Basti?
Why is it that UP has just one bench and here too West UP which owes for more than half of pending cases has none? Why a single bench only for UP at Lucknow which is so close to Allahabad just about 200 km away and not anywhere else as in West UP where people have to travel about 700-800 km on an average all the way to Allahabad as there is no bench here? Why a bench for Lucknow since July 1, 1948 for just about 8 districts but no bench for West UP even in 2019 for 26 districts for more than 9 crore people living here which constitutes for nearly half of the population of UP? Can this be justified on any ground and under any circumstances? Certainly not!
If Lucknow is capital then so is Bhopal which has neither high court nor bench and same is true for Dispur which is capital of Assam, Bhubaneshwar which is capital of Odisha, Dehradun which is capital of Uttarakhand, Thiruvananthapuram which is capital of Kerala, Raipur which is capital of Chhattisgarh, etc! Allahabad High Court must get its due share as it has maximum pending cases, maximum Judges and what not yet has just one bench since 1947 till 2019 which is most shameful and most disgraceful! Allahabad High Court needs special care and not special neglect as most unfortunately we have been seeing till now!
It must have maximum benches in India and not minimum as most unfortunately we have been seeing since last 72 years! Centre’s adamant approach to not create any bench anywhere else in UP other than Lucknow is responsible for demand being raised for separate state as we see in Bundelkhand, West UP, Poorvanchal and other parts also! Centre can shamelessly create 2 more benches for a peaceful satte like Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts even though it had a bench already at Hubli also for just 6 crore people living there but for more than 9 crore people of West UP it is not ready to create even a single bench! Karnataka has just about 1 lakh pending cases still it has 3 benches but for UP which has more than 10 lakh pending cases and West UP alone which has more than 5 lakh pending cases it has none! Same is true for Assam and Maharashtra which have 4 benches even though their pending cases stand nowhere when compared to UP whom Ban ki moon who is former UN Secretary General had slammed as “rape and crime capital of India” and even West UP alone has more cases which is more than both the states put together!
Is this is what Article 14 which talks about right to equality stands for? Is Centre not making an open mockery of Article 14 of Indian Constitution? Are the people of West UP not entitled to get “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice” just like the people of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam etc? Why is it that the highcourt and benches of 8 states are closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad? Why even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court? Still should a high court bench not be created here?
Needless to say, Centre must clarify its stand and not maintain a conspicuous and deafening silence on it! Former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee had clearly said in 2001 while he was Attorney General that, “Centre is fully empowered to create a bench in any of the districts in West UP without any recommendation from the Chief Justice or anyone else in this regard.” Former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman Krishnamani had also said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in West UP will the people living here get real justice.”CJI Ranjan Gogoi while disposing of a petition on this filed by a lady advocate KL Chitra last year had appreciated the dire need for a bench in West UP but also had said that it is for Centre to decide on it!
How long will Centre take to decide it? Another 100 years or 200 years or 300 years or never? It must have the guts to at least specify its clear stand on this! Dr BR Ambedkar who is the founding father of Constitution wanted UP to be divided into 3 parts as it was very big but Centre decided not just to not divide UP but also not to allow any bench anywhere else other than in Lucknow for reasons it has never had the guts to disclose from 1947 till now even though it created 2, 3 and more benches for smaller states shamelessly which alone explains that it did not accept the historic recommendation of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to create 3 benches in UP in Agra, Nainital and Dehradun!
If a high court bench is created in West UP, it is “poorest of poor” and the most deprived and hapless women who will benefit most as they will be saved from the unnecessary trouble of travelling so far and spending so much extra money, time etc to just attend one hearing alone! We all saw how a 8 year old girl was brutally raped and murdered in Aligarh just recently! Rape, gang-rape and murder have become a very common thing in West UP! This alone explains why former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee who is the tallest leader of NDA till now himself forcefully raised this crying demand for bench in West UP inside Parliament more than 33 years ago in 1986 when he was Leader of Opposition!
On a concluding note, Centre must have some pity on woman at least who are most unsafe in lawless UP and especially West UP where they are repeatedly being brutally murdered as we have seen in case of Supreme Court lawyer Kuljeet Kaur, former UP Bar Council Chairperson Darvesh Yadav among others and immediately order creation of more benches not just in West UP but also in other parts of UP where the crime rate is high! Crime rate is highest in West UP which necessitates prompt creation of high court bench here! Will Centre deny or question this also? It cannot even if it wants because the crime statistics are easily available!
It goes without saying that Centre must now immediately come into action and order the creation of a high court bench in West UP as strongly recommended by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission also! Let’s hope so fervently! If PM Modi really wants to implement on ground his catchy slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” then it must immediately order the creation of a bench in West UP and other needy places in UP like Jhansi, Gorakhpur among others because this will ensure that people of all religion equally benefit from it and not just people of one special religion or community or caste alone!
If West UP can’t be given a high court bench then all benches in India must be disbanded but that will not be a mature step! The perpetual disregard for the more than 9 crore people living here by denying them even a bench is most unfortunate! The 230th report of Law Commission of India in 2009 categorically recommended the creation of more high court benches but ten years down the line we see that only few states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal have benefited and UP has remained untouched which is most deplorable, most disgusting and most disgraceful! Centre must own up its responsibility and create a high court bench in West UP and not just be satisfied by issuing directions to UP CM to take steps to improve the law and order situation in the state!
It must be said upfront: As long as criminals know that there is no high court bench in West UP and it will take decades for cases to be decided they will continue committing crimes and litigants would be further punished by making them travel so far as about 700 to 800 km which means whole night as there is no bench in West UP as also other parts like Bundelkhand! Centre is fully empowered to create a high court bench in West UP and other parts of UP also but the real problem is Centre just is damn interested in creating benches either in West UP or in Bundelkhand or other lawless states like Bihar where there is not even a single bench! How long will Centre keep indulging in favouritism and favour just few privileged states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam among others?
It is a national tragedy that maximum crime, maximum riots take place in West UP and still Centre is just not ready to concede even a single bench of high court to the people living here numbering more than 9 crore and the lawyers of 26 districts are left with no option but to go on strike every Saturday and keep meeting at short interval just like they are meeting on July 6 at Meerut! For how long? Why can’t Centre be gracious enough to concede their legitimate demands? Why is Centre making open mockery of Article 14 and other articles which talk of “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice”?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.