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Why SC Never Seeks Accountability On Bench Issue?

 

It is really good to learn that the Supreme Court in Manohar Lal Sharma vs Union of India and Ors (famously known as Pegasus case) in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 314 of 2021 has made it clear that State won’t get a free pass by mere mention of “national security”. It also minced no words to hold that, “Mere invocation of national security won’t render the Court a mute spectator.” But it is really incomprehensible that when it comes to setting up of more High Court Benches especially in big states like UP, I find that judiciary maintains a complete deafening silence and even Apex Court renders itself a mute spectator! This begs the inevitable question: Why the Apex Court time and again voices its concern over law and order and huge pending cases in UP but not once does it ever speak up on creating more High Court Benches in UP especially in needy regions like West UP, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal among others?

This also begs these key inevitable questions: Why Supreme Court ignores that creation of more High Court Benches directly concerns the judiciary itself yet it chooses to always maintain a conspicuous silence on it? Why is Centre allowed to get away with pompously announcing more medical colleges, more engineering colleges, more airports in UP but not a single Bench since 1948 when former PM late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had approved a High Court Bench at Lucknow famously called “Nawab City” just 200 km away from Allahabad where High Court itself is located? Why not a single High Court Bench has been allowed anywhere else in nearly 75 years of independence other than in Eastern UP?

It must also be asked: Why when former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi had appointed Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to look into where all High Court Benches are needed in late 1970s headed by former Supreme Court Judge – Justice Jaswant Singh and it recommended High Court Bench at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and at Madurai in Tamil Nadu which were promptly accepted by Centre but its recommendations to create 3 more High Court Benches in UP at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun were thrown in dustbin? Why Supreme Court never sought any accountability on this as it directly concerned the judiciary itself and why no Committee was ever appointed to look into this which directly concerns the fundamental right of citizens to get speedy justice and affordable justice? Why the people of Uttarakhand were treated like third rated citizens who had to travel more than thousands of kilometers all the way most stupidly, most shamelessly and most senselessly to Allahabad as they were not attached with Lucknow which was still near and same is the case of more than 9 crore people of West UP who too were attached not with Lucknow but with Allahabad due to which they are still required to travel whole night and half day all the way to Allahabad by train as it averages 600 to 750 km? Why Supreme Court never sought any accountability from Centre on this?

It is also worth asking: When lawyers of 26 districts of West UP hugely dissatisfied with Centre on not setting up a Bench in West UP set up the Central Action Committee in May 1981 and started going on strike every Saturday and even went on strike many times for 6 months in a row as happened in 2001 from July to December and so also for 3 to 4 months as happened in 2014-15 and every year go on strike time and again many times and have even gone on strike on Wednesday also as we are seeing now and what not yet why Supreme Court watches everything like a helpless, hapless and hopeless spectator? How can judiciary and that too Apex Court watch everything like a mute spectator? It could have taken suo motu notice just like it has done now after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and so also in Pegasus case but on Bench issue it never did!

It must be stated rather disconcertingly that it is India’s utter misfortune that UP which has the maximum population more than 24 crore as Yogi Adityanath who is UP CM keeps proudly declaring time and again which is more than the population of may countries including Pakistan whose population is 22 crore, 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 in High Court and Bench whereas other states like Karnataka which has 3 high court Benches, Maharashtra which has 3 high court Benches, Assam which has 4 high court benches, Madhya Pradesh which has two etc even though they have less than 1 lakh pending cases or just 1 lakh, UP has maximum districts 75 whereas other states have just about 25 or 30 on an average, UP has maximum MPs both in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha, maximum MLAs, maximum Mayors, maximum towns, maximum pending cases in lower courts about to touch one crore 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 July 1 at Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad where the high court itself is located! Seventy three years have lapsed but till now in October 2021 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”! All true Indians must hang their head in shame at this despicable act! All Benches in India must be disbanded right now itself if West UP and UP cannot have more High Court Benches! How can CJI and Apex Court keep looking just the other way and why can’t it take suo motu cognizance on this also just like it took recently on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident?

 

It is most shocking that  UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 24 crore, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies – 80,  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 cases in lower courts about to touch 1 crore and more than 97 lakh right now which can be independently verified also, maximum Judges both in High Court – 160 and also in lower courts, maximum vacancies of Judges both in High Court and also in lower courts, maximum members in UP Bar Council which is also the largest Bar Council in the world as claimed in the website itself of UP Bar Council yet the former Chairman of UP Bar Council – Darvesh Yadav who was the first woman to get appointed to this post was murdered cold blooded right in court premises in Agra which is again in West UP on June 12, 2019 by pumping bullets on her head and stomach, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh the exact number being 107040, maximum gram panchayats at 74626, 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 end of 2020 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 the entire UP? Area of West UP is 98,933 square km and accounts for 33.61 percent of total area of UP and has 26 districts yet no bench but Lucknow with just 62,363 square km and 12 districts has a bench! Allahabad High Court is biggest High Court in whole of Asia as was claimed by Yogi Adityanath and also is one of oldest High Court yet has least Bench just one and very near to Allahabad which is nothing but most senseless, shameless and stupid decision perpetuated since independence and not rectified till now!

Does Supreme Court ever delve on this million dollar question: Why is it that the people of West UP of more than 22 districts foolishly were compelled and are still compelled most senselessly to travel all the way to Allahabad which is far away even from Lucknow where High Court Bench is located and averages 600 to 700 km on an average? Most shamefully and most disgracefully, why is it that the people of Uttarakhand had to travel thousands of kilometers all the way shamelessly, senselessly and stupidly all the way not to even Lucknow but right upto Allahabad which is the topmost height of absurdity for more than 50 years from 1947 till end of 2000 when a separate state was created termed as Uttarakhand and a High Court was then allotted for them?

As if this was not enough, the UPA government headed by former PM Manmohan Singh had pompously decided to create 2 more High Court Benches for Karnataka which already had a Bench at Hubli for just 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga respectively in 2008 first as Circuit Bench and then later in 2013 as full Bench as the Karnataka leaders who were very influential were Law Ministers and cared for Karnataka! The population of Karnataka is just 6 crore and that of West UP is more than 9 crore yet Karnataka has High Court and 3 High Court Benches also but West UP has not even a single Bench!  The lawyers of West UP headed by senior lawyers and Chairman and Secretary of Central Action Committee constituted for setting up a High Court Bench in 1981 repeatedly met the PM, UPA Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi among others but all that UP got was a big slap on its face as not a single Bench was allowed anywhere in UP! For more than 9 crore people of West UP alone no Bench but for just 6 crore people of Karnataka, Centre felt most proud to create 2 more Benches which already had a High Court and a Bench which makes me hang my head in shame! This despite the fact that Karnataka is a peaceful state and had already a High Court and in UP we see how all opposition parties keep beating their chest on lawlessness yet has just one Bench!

But why blame UPA alone? Even the incumbent PM Narendra Damodardas Modi has ensured that not a single High Court is approved anywhere not just in West UP but in any hook and corner of UP even though it is UP which primarily decides which party will rule in Delhi! Modi ensured that for Telangana from where firebrand leader Asaduddin Owaisi hails and which has just 3.5 crore population was promptly given High Court itself in 2014 when in June it was created as a separate state but for more than 9 crore people of West UP, it is just not prepared till now for even a single High Court Bench except repeated promises which we have been hearing since ages!  The incumbent CM of UP – Yogi Aditynath had thundered with full might for a High Court Bench in Gorakhpur in 1999 while he was MP from there right inside Parliament yet more than 22 years later no action on ground! But he cannot be blamed as it is Centre which has to take the final call on this!

 

It cannot be lightly dismissed that none other than the former CJI Ranjan Gogoi while in office as CJI had categorically appreciated the dire need of a High Court Bench in West UP when a woman lawyer named KL Chitra raised this burning issue in her PIL but Gogoi made it clear that it was for the Centre to take the final call on this! But Centre led by PM Narendra Damodardas Modi is very firm that what Jawaharlal Nehru did in 1948 to allot Bench only for “Nawab City” should be always maintained and in his 7 years he has proudly done that about which I myself feel most ashamed as the most historic recommendations of 230th report of Law Commission recommending creation of more Benches have been thrown in the dustbin! This despite the irrefutable fact that BJP tall leaders like Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister like Gen VK Singh among others have always reiterated their support for a Bench as the people of more than 22 districts are compelled to travel whole night and half day all the way to Allahabad most foolishly which is truly incomprehensible!

Even former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had raised High Court Bench issue in West UP in Parliament in 1986! Even Kapil Sibal as Union Law Minister had recommended for a High Court Bench in Meerut in UPA regime as was disclosed by another former Union Minister RPN Singh yet no action! Even in 1955 the then UP CM Sampoornanand had recommended for Bench in Meerut yet no action by Centre! BJP MP from Baghpat and former Union Minister Satyapal Singh who is also former Mumbai Police Commissioner had demanded right inside Parliament 5 High Court Benches for UP at Meerut, Agra, Gorakhpur, Jhansi and Varanasi yet not a single created till now in 2021 and now 2022 will start in just two months still no Bench!

Can even Supreme Court ever justify this Himalyan blunder which has been perpetrated stupidly since last 75 years?  Even Supreme Court has no valid reason to justify this worst stupidity on earth! It is akin to what all the PM have done from 1955 till 2021 that only Hindus have been banned from polygamy and not Muslims as my best friend Sageer Khan used to always lament which he said cannot be justified under any circumstances! He used to ask his own Muslim brothers: “Are Hindus second graded citizens in India that they have been barred from marrying more than one even though in British rule they could marry as many as they liked? Muslims enjoy maximum liberty in India all over the world but discriminating between Hindus and Muslims cannot be justified under any circumstances. Hindus are most tolerant and they have so quietly accepted abolition of polygamy and polyandry but no PM can ever dare abolish polygamy among Muslims as they know that Muslims are not Hindus who will tolerate everything quietly.”

No doubt, the same holds true for High Court Benches also! Why only Eastern UP has both High Court and a single Bench and West UP, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand have not even a single Bench anywhere! This is utterly disgraceful and ridiculous! Supreme Court again till now has done nothing on this! Supreme Court and so also the CJI right from 1947 till 2021 have not covered themselves with glory by leaving everything on Centre alone as was vindicated by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi when he clearly maintained that it is for the Centre to act on this yet Centre is just not prepared to do anything on this at all! Supreme Court is final but it cannot be always infallible! It has grievously erred by not doing anything on this since last nearly 75 years!

Let’s fervently hope that better sense prevails on CJI and Apex Court on this burning issue also as this will benefit directly most the poorest of poor, women, aged and the needy who cannot afford to travel by plane! Centre is too busy inaugurating international airport in Kushinagar, opening new medical colleges and what not but on creating more High Court Benches we see nothing happening on ground till now and even Supreme Court has maintained a studied silence which is so deafening that is really incomprehensible! When will the day come when Apex Court will summon the courage to act on this key issue also of creating more High Court Benches in big states like UP which directly concerns the judiciary yet we see nothing happening since independence on it? I really pity and find it totally incomprehensible as to why Apex Court can’t act decisively on this also and take Centre to task for doing just nothing on this? Last but not the least: Supreme Court has a lot of serious introspection to do on this as it is found to be wanting on this even though this burning issue directly concerns the judiciary itself! One fervently hopes Apex Court will act here also!

 

Sanjeev Sirohi

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