President From West UP Still No High Court Bench Here
Coming straight to the centre-stage, let me begin by voicing my utmost happiness to learn that for the first time in the history of independent India a President has been elected from not just UP but also West UP which is among the most neglected regions even though it contributes maximum by way of revenue and earnings. Ram Nath Kovind who was the NDA’s candidate and former Bihar Governor will become India’s 14th President and first RSS member to become Indian President. His being elected as President is the biggest slap on those who foolishly term RSS as a “terror organization”. Will our President join a terror organization?
Kovindji was elected India’s 14th President on winning two-thirds (65.65 percent) of the total votes polled in the fight against the Opposition candidate Meira Kumar. He will take oath on . He will be the second Dalit President after late President KR Narayanan but more significantly the first from not just UP but also West UP.
Kovindji is a self-made man who practised brilliantly at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court for 16 years. He was also a Central Government Counsel for some time. He has worked for the rights of the weaker sections particularly the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women. He joined the movement of SC/ST employees against the central government over 1997 orders which adversely affected their interests. The orders were subsequently nullified by amendments adopted during the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. He also worked for providing free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society as an advocate.
He represented India at the United Nations and addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 2002. He also served as member on the Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Management Kolkata and that of Dr BR Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He served two terms as the Rajya Sabha member (1994-2006) and was member of a number of Parliamentary Committees, including on Hme, welfare of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the Hindi Shiksha Samiti.
Kovindji while recalling his humble roots said his home had “mud walls” and the “straw roof” could not stop water from leaking in when it rained. He said that, “Today it rained in Delhi, reminding me of the monsoon of my childhood. We had a kuccha house and the roof leaked. We, the siblings, would huddle around a wall, waiting for the rain to stop. There would be so many Ram Nath Kovinds in the country today, getting drenched in the rain, doing farm work, labour and sweating it out so that they can get their evening meals. I want to tell them that this Ram Nath Kovind of Paraunkh village (in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh) is going to Rashtrapati Bhavan as their representative.” Very rightly said!
Who can be better than Kovindji to convince Centre that West UP from where he hails has more than 9 crore population, accounts for more than half of the total pending cases in UP, accounts for maximum riots, murders, rapes, gang-rapes, dacoities and other crimes and still West UP has no Bench of High Court due to which the people here have to travel 700-800 km on average all the way to Allahabad as there is no High Court Bench here? Who can be better than Kovindji to convince Centre that lawyers of West UP have been agitating since last many decades for a High Court Bench and have even been striking for 6 months continuously as they did in 2001 and every Saturday since May 1981 in protest against Centre decision not to set up a High Court Bench here even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Jaswant Singh and appointed by Centre itself had way back in 1980s recommended that 3 High Court Benches be set up at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun even though on its recommendations High Court Bench were set up at Aurangabad in Maharashtra way back in 1985, at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu? Who can be better than Kovindji to convince Centre that it is the “poorest of the poor” in West UP who are suffering the most due to High Court Bench not being set up here and Benches and High Courts of 8 states and even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad?
Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre citing the brutal gang rape incident of 4 women on national highway at Jewar near Greater Noida in West UP and murder of their men when they resisted and even after 56 days no arrests have been made and it is West UP which must have a High Court Bench? Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that even though people of my area are basking in joy at my being elected but still they will have to travel all the way to Allahabad to attend court hearings and spend so much of extra money to travel whole day all the way to Allahabad as there is no High Court Bench here in West UP as both High Court at Allahabad and a single Bench set up at Lucknow on July 1, 1948 which is just 150-200 km away from Allahabad are both in Eastern UP? Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that when 2 high court benches can be set up for just 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga in Karnataka in 2012 by previous UPA government in Centre then why can’t the present NDA government set up even a single Bench of High Court for 26 districts of West UP at Kanpur or Meerut or Ghaziabad or Agra or Aligarh or anywhere else wherever it deems appropriate?
Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that maximum caste violence is taking place in West UP as we saw recently in Saharanpur due to which even Mayawati resigned her membership as Rajya Sabha MP as she felt that she was not allowed to rake it up in detail and so High Court Bench must be created here? Who can be better than Kovind to explain to Centre that it was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand had recommended a High Court Bench in West UP at Meerut and many other Chief Ministers also recommended the same but till now still no Bench has been created here? Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that Rajnath Singh who is our Union Home Minister and former UP CM just recently had assured the lawyers at Meerut that very soon they will get to hear happy news pertaining to setting up of a High Court Bench in West UP? Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had himself demanded the setting up of a Bench in West UP right inside Parliament in 1986 while in Opposition?
Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that being a lawyer himself in the past who can be better than him to understand how much miseries the more than 9 crore people of West UP have to suffer due to it not having a High Court Bench even though all the elected representatives from here support the age old legitimate demand for a Bench? Who can be better than Kovindji to explain to Centre that 230th Law Commission advocates setting up of more High Court Benches and UP being the biggest State with maximum crime deserves High Court Bench more than any other State as even former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon termed UP as “rape and crime capital Of India” so that justice is available to people living here at doorsteps? I am certain that Kovindji will be the representative of the poor on Raisina Hill as he has himself assured. Even former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh Dr Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had acknowledged that a bench of high court for west UP is perfectly justified with Vajpayee raising it even in Parliament!
Kovindji must also ask Centre: Why can’t our leaders understand that a high court bench in West UP is not going to benefit just people of one religion or one caste or one sex alone? Why don’t our politicians appreciate that people of all religions, all communities, all castes, all sexes and all others who comprise part of 9 crore people staying in West UP will benefit if a high court bench is set up here? Why should litigants be compelled to travel so far to Allahabad and waste huge money in staying, travelling, eating and other expenses? Why no one is caring for “poorest of poor” who have to travel so far all the way to Allahabad to get justice? Why Rajinder Aggarwal who is BJP MP from Meerut brings forward private member bill in Parliament for creating high court bench in West UP but Centre refuses to support it? Why eminent, senior lawyers like Anil Bakshi who is Member of UP Bar Council and also former President of Meerut Bar Council proudly says that he has been to jail in past while agitating for a high court bench in West UP and can go any number of times to jail for the sake of bench in West UP? It is because bench is a dire need for the more than 9 crore people of West UP who are suffering interminably due to no bench being created here!
If a high court bench is created in West UP for more than 9 crore people living here 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 which can certainly be avoided if a high court bench is created here! Centre must have some pity on woman at least who are most unsafe in lawless UP and especially West UP and keeping the interests of such women victims in mind 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 as validated by recent incidents which necessitates creation of high court bench here on a war footing!
Who can be better than Kovind to explain to Centre that how can he speak for the whole of India if the people of West UP from where he hails are suffering the worst form of injustice by being denied even a single High Court Bench since last 70 years? Who can be better than Kovind to ask Centre that why states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam and others have 3 high court benches even though the number of pending cases in these cases is not 10 lakh or 9 lakh or 8 lakh or 7 lakh or 6 lakh or 5 lakh or 4 lakh or 3 lakh or even 2 lakh as opposed to UP which has more than 10 lakh pending cases and yet has only one single high court bench at Lucknow which is just 150-200 km away from Allahabad leaving the rest of UP high and dry? Who can be better than Kovind to ask that why when more than 57% of pending cases are from West UP as was testified by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission did Centre not approve even a single bench here nor for any other place in UP? Who can be better than Kovind to ask Centre that why this step-motherly treatment with UP and especially West UP?
Who can be better than Kovindji to ask Centre that why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 22 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out every now and then, maximum districts - 75, maximum constituencies, maximum MPs – 80, maximum MLAs - 404, maximum PM including Narendra Modi, 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 which earlier was 160 and increased to 200 in high court, maximum vacancies of Judges - 75 in high court, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, maximum dowry cases, maximum rape and gang rape cases, maximum bride burning cases, maximum cases of human rights violations, 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 is not prepared to create even a single bench for not just West UP but entire UP? Who can be better than Kovindji to ask Centre that why when 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 yet has least Benches – only one and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow? You see for yourself the distance from Allahabad to all major districts of West UP and they are as follows: -
Meerut 637 km
Muzzaffarnagar 693 km
Saharanpur 752 km
Ghaziabad 607 km
Bijnore 692 km
Gautambuddhnagar 650 km
Bulandshahr 537 km
Hathras 550 km
Rampur 633 km
Moradabad 662 km
Aligarh 501 km
Mathura 501 km
Agra 464 km
Etah 497 km
Mainpuri 462 km
Shamli 720 km
Hapur 600 km
Sambhal 650 km
Amroha 692 km
Kovindji must also ask Centre: Why West UP has an area of 98,933 square km which accounts for 33.61 percent of total area of UP and yet no bench but Lucknow in Central region has just 62,363 square km and yet it has a bench? Centre has all the power to create a high court bench in West UP without any recommendation from the state government as the former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee had rightly said way back in 2001 when he was asked about it. He had rightly said that, “The Centre without any recommendation from the State Chief Minister or Chief Justice of a State is fully empowered under our Constitution to set up a high court bench anywhere it wants at its own volition." Still why Centre is not acting? Now NDA is in power both in Centre and in UP then what is the problem in creating a High Court Bench in West UP? One can understand that former Union Minister in UPA regime RPN Singh had pointed out that Kapil Sibal who was earlier Union Law Minister had wanted to create a High Court Bench in West UP at Meerut but the then UP CM Akhilesh Yadav was not prepared for it but NDA is in power now in both Centre and UP then where is the problem? Why Centre ignores blithely what the former Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association Krishna Mani had said explicitly that, "Only by the creation of a bench of high court in West UP will the people be able to secure speedy and cheap justice at their doorsteps!"
Who can be better than Kovindji to ask: Why women victims have to travel so far away to Allahabad which is about 700-800 km away from most of the districts of West UP and be made to suffer so much for the inordinate delay and made to bear the huge expenses in fighting the case for her right in making sure that sexual offenders are sent behind bars? Why poor farmers and poor people from West UP are made to travel so much and spend so much extra money just to secure justice to the extent that they have to mortgage their land, property etc? Why can’t Centre create a High Court Bench here? Centre must itself ponder that how can it allow the more than 9 crore people of West UP from where the new President Ram Nath Kovindji hails to continue suffering endlessly by being denied even a high court bench to West UP even in 2018 even though Lucknow has a bench since 1948 even though it is just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad where the high court itself is located?
Sanjeeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kaankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.