Let me begin on a bitter note by expressing my profuse disappointment and utmost disenchantment with the continuous and callous disregard of more than 19 crore people living in different parts of UP which is more than 10 small states put together by Centre since 1947 till 2019! Why is it that only Eastern UP has high court at Allahabad and a single bench at Lucknow and all the other regions like Western UP, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal etc have been completely disregarded and denied their legitimate share by giving them at least one high court bench? Why no government in Centre has ever taken any initiative to correct this worst injustice since 1947 till now in 2019? It is UP where maximum cases of crimes takes place and West UP alone owes for more than half of the total cases in UP and yet it has not even a single bench of high court even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Jaswant Singh categorically recommended bench for West UP in early 1980s even though on its historic recommendations benches were created in Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Madurai in Tamil Nadu and other places!
Which state has maximum districts in India – 75? UP! Which state sends maximum MPs to Lok Sabha – 80? UP! Which state sends maximum MPs to Rajya Sabha – 31? UP! Which state sends maximum members to Vidhan Sabha – 404? UP!
Which state sends maximum representation to Vidhan Parishad – 100? UP! Which state elects maximum Mayors? Which state elects maximum representatives at all levels? UP! Which state has maximum population which is more than 19 crore as per 2011 census even though in public rallies UP CM Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi keep saying more than 22 crore? UP!
Which state has maximum villages more than one lakh even though no other state has more than few thousand villages at the most? UP! Which state has maximum poverty? UP! Which state has maximum cities which is more than 700? UP!
Which state has maximum crime to the extent that former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed UP as the “rape and crime capital of India”? UP! Here too which part of UP owes for more than 52% of pending cases of UP and yet has no high court bench? West UP! Which state has maximum pending cases which is more than the cases of 10 states put together? UP! Which state owes for maximum dowry deaths? UP! Which state owes for maximum custodial deaths? UP! Which state has maximum pending cases in lower courts more than 65 lakhs? UP!
Which state has maximum pending cases of communal violence and riots as we saw in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, Meerut riots in 1988, Bareilly riots, Agra riots etc all in Western part? UP! Which state has maximum pending cases of rape, molestation, murder and other crimes against women? UP! Which state has maximum strength of Judges both in high court at 160 and in lower courts at 5000? UP! Which state has maximum vacancies of Judges? UP! Which state has sent maximum PM which includes Narendra Modi from Varanasi? UP!
The larger point that I want to make here is this: Why is it that Allahabad High Court tops among all states when it comes to the number of pending cases which is more than 10 lakhs whereas most of other states have not more than one lakh cases and still Centre is busy creating more and more high court benches for them with latest at Jalpaiguri for just a handful of districts! Assam till a few years ago had 7 high court benches but after Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura were given separate high courts, it now stands reduced to 4! But Allahabad High Court which is the biggest court not just in India but in whole of Asia with so vast a jurisdiction has just one!
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 with more than 9 crore population!
Not just this, Centre has always ensured that this high court has maximum vacancies of Judges which is highest in country with more than half of seats which stands at 160 keep lying vacant! Is this fair? Is Centre not aware that Allahabad High Court needs “special attention” and not “special neglect”?
Is Centre not aware that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had categorically pointed out that West UP owes for about 57% of the total pending cases which is more than half of the total pending cases in UP still why its landmark recommendation to create a bench here to take care of nearly 40 districts at Agra with circuit benches at Nainital and Dehradun overlooked?
Why when Sampoornanand recommended a high court bench to be created at Meerut in 1955 after more than 100 elected representatives met him and convinced him of the dire need of the same did Nehru refuse? Why when a bench could be created at Lucknow in 1948 could a bench not be created at Meerut which is more than 700 km away in 1955? Why when Kapil Sibal wanted a high court bench to be created at Meerut when he was Union Law Minister as another Union Minister RPN Singh had disclosed but the then UP CM Akhilesh Yadav objected did Centre not listen to its own reputed and one of the most reputed jurist of India? Why Centre said that the recommendation made by Law Commission in its fourth report in 1955 recommended against creating more benches and so West UP could not be given a bench conveniently overlooked everything when it came to other states and kept on creating benches there and also overlooked that the Law Commission in its 230th report recommended creation of more benches yet West UP and other parts of UP like Bundelkhand were kicked by not creating more benches for Allahabad high court? Why Centre took no time to create 2 more high court benches for Karnataka with just 6 crore population which is less than even West UP population alone and which already had a bench at Hubli for just 4 and 8 districts at Gulbarga and Dharwad respectively but for 26 districts and more than 9 crore people of West UP not a single bench was approved even though the lawyers here keep going on strike as they did thrice like once in 2001 for 6 months from July to December and for 3 to 4 months as they did in 2014-15 and for one month as they did in 2010 and for many weeks as they keep doing every year apart from the strikes on Saturdays for last 38 years and many times even on Wednesdays? Why Centre disregarded the most commendable recommendation made by one of the most eminent jurist of India – Soli J Sorabjee who as Attorney General in 2001had categorically recommended that, “Centre is empowered to create a high court bench in West UP without any recommendation from the Chief Justice or Chief Minister or anyone else in this regard”? Why Centre even disregarded what former Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association BN Krishnamani said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in any of the districts in West UP will the people living there get real justice”?
Why Centre approves one more bench for Mumbai high court at Kolhapur for just 6 districts which already had 3 benches at Panaji, Aurangabad and Nagpur just recently in 2018 itself but cites 100 reasons for not creating a single more bench for Allahabad High Court in any hook and corner of UP leave alone West UP? Why Centre from 1947 till 2019 has taken the stand that, “Ask anything for UP but not a high court bench as only Lucknow deserves it”? What rubbish!
If Lucknow is capital then so are Bhopal which is capital of Madhya Pradesh, Dehradun which is capital of Uttarakhand, Bhubaneshwar which is capital of Odisha, Dispur which is capital of Assam, Raipur which is capital of Chhattisgarh and Thiruvanathapuram which is capital of Kerala yet they have neither high court nor bench! Also, Lucknow’s area jurisdiction is just 62,00 square km and that of West UP is 98,933 square km! The number of districts which come under the jurisdiction of Lucknow bench is just 12 and that of West UP is 26! The population of districts under Lucknow jurisdiction stands nowhere as compared to West UP whose population at more than 9 crore is more than any other state except UP of which it is itself a part, Maharashtra and Bihar and here too areawise West UP has 98,933 square km and that of Bihar is just 94,000 square km!
Why catchy slogans like “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice” not implemented for West UP and other remote areas of UP by creating more benches here? Why Mayawati wanted high court itself for West UP by recommending to Centre that it be made a separate state way back in 1995 but Centre is not ready to concede even a bench for West UP? Why is BJP a blind follower of Congress in this regard and till now has ensured that not a single high court bench is created in any hook and corner of UP except the one created already by Nehru 70 years ago in 1948 at Lucknow?
This despite the fact that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had thundered in Parliament way back in 1986 as Opposition Leader demanding the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP and Yogi Adityanath who is now UP CM also himself thundered while demanding for a High Court Bench at Gorakhpur way back in 1998 right inside Parliament but 20 years later we don’t see any High Court Bench anywhere being created in UP! One can understand that Vajpayee didn’t enjoy majority but Modi has it but we see no action forthcoming on this so far even though he is taking other steps for UP like pompously inaugurating the 14 lane highway connecting Delhi with Meerut and other districts of West UP in which many crores of rupeeshave been spent which will reduce the time limit from Meerut to Delhi from 2 hours to just 45 minutes which is commendable but what about high court bench in West UP which is affecting the litigants of 26 districts most adversely due to which they are still compelled to travel more than 700 km all the way to Allahabad whole night without reservation many times and bear all sorts of inconveniences? When will action be taken on this score? Why can’t few crores be spared for creating a bench in West UP and other needy areas of UP like in Jhansi in Budelkhand and in Gorakhpur?
It is not for nothing that Union Minister Satyapal Singh demanded in Parliament the creation of 5 high court benches at Meerut, Agra, Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Varanasi but the real tragedy is that his own PM is not listening to him and not creating even one more bench anywhere else in UP other than the one which already exists at Lucknow! Similarly many other BJP MPs like former Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan, Union Minister Gen VK Singh, Mahesh Sharma and other MPs like Rajinder Agarwal keep demanding benches but to no avail!
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 grabbing the national news 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!
It is incomprehensible why Centre can approve 3 or 4 or 5 benches for peaceful states like Maharashtra, Karnataka among others but not more than one for UP which has maximum pending cases which is more than 10 states put together! Allahabad High Court must be given its due honour and it must have maximum high court benches and not minimum! Disband all high court benches in India if Allahabad High Court cannot be given more benches, West UP cannot be given a bench nor can Bundelkhand or Gorakhpur (which is CM Yogi’s constituency and where BJP just recently lost) for people living so far away who face maximum sufferings because of this but which no PM has ever dared to address for reasons never disclosed!
This all-important issue directly affecting billions of litigants coming from all sections of society is lying largely unattended and untreated since many decades! But now not any longer! Allahabad High Court must get its due by creating more benches for it!
No one is safe in UP! Even lawyers and those in police are not safe! in Allahabad itself are not safe! Criminals know that it take ages for cases to be decided in UP as UP has least benches in India and maximum pending cases in India! Former UP High Court Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale in a case involving rape of few women on national highway in Bulandshahr in West UP rightly said that there is total lawlessness in UP as compared to Maharashtra where women can travel alone in night anywhere and this I have also seen myself at Pune from where I did LLB but see the difference that Maharashtra has four high court benches with latest at Kolhapur for just 6 districts and Pune is all set to get another as CM Devendra Fadnavis has approved it for which we all must applaud him but Centre must create benches in UP also! When Maharashtra can get benches in no time then why Allahabad High Court in UP which has maximum pending cases be denied its due share? Please explain!
Why can’t Centre take serious steps to address this cancerous problem root and branch and not just resort to baby steps and bandaid measures like reducing time limit to reach Delhi by spending many crores of rupees on creating 14 lane national highways but doing nothing at all to create more benches anywhere in UP so that people are not compelled to travel whole night to Allahabad? Why can’t this be done? Is it such a big deal? Certainly not! Only political will needed!