Why Can’t West UP Have A High Court Bench?
What the lawyers of West UP did on September 11? Strike. What will the lawyers of West UP do on September 12? Strike. What will the lawyers of West UP do on September 13? Strike. What will the lawyers of West UP do on ? Strike. In addition there has been no work earlier also in courts of West UP on 7 and 8 September!
Lawyers in West UP are not safe even from policemen what to say about goons! A lawyer Suresh Raj was brutally thrashed by cops themselves in Greater Noida some time back. Still no FIR was lodged against the erring cops. To protest this, the lawyers of West UP of 22 districts decided that they will be on strike from and this may extend even further if still no action is taken. It is most hurting to see that lawyers of West UP are compelled to go on strike again and again! But it seems no one is caring!
What the lawyers of West UP did for full 3 months in 2014-15? Strike demanding a high court bench in West UP and ended only after assurances from Arun Jaitley of looking into the matter! What did Centre do in last 3 years? Nothing but assurances and the most firm assurance from Centre came from none other than BJP President Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that bench will soon be created but again after many months nothing happened!
In 2001, the lawyers of West UP went on strike not for 6 days or 6 weeks but for full 6 months consecutively demanding high court bench but again they got nothing but only empty assurances! This has happened many times in the past also! Lawyers of West UP have been regularly striking work every since May 1981 demanding the creation of a high court bench in West UP! They protested that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by Justice Jaswant Singh who was a former Supreme Court Judge had recommended the creation of 3 benches in West UP but not a single bench created till now even though benches were created for Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! We saw how in June newspapers were flooded with breaking news that Brijesh Pathak who is the Law Minister of Uttar Pradesh saying pompously that, “Western Uttar Pradesh will soon have a high court bench. We will discuss the details soon and inform you.” But we are still seeing no action on the ground!
Why are lawyers of West UP forced to go on strike again and again sometimes for 3 months or 6 months or for many weeks or for few days as they will do now on 11, 12, 13 and 14 September, 2017 and every since 1981 and even many times on Wednesday? Why lawyers including senior lawyers are compelled to block highways, lie down in front of a train and indulge in different form of protest on roads and highways instead of practicing quietly since last many decades and even go on padyatra demanding bench many times and the most famous one was that of 1989? Why lawyers of West UP are compelled to sometimes even boycott Lok Adalats as they did in 2014-15 and whole night sat outside the court in protest against West UP not being given a high court bench?
Why eminent criminal lawyer, former President of Meerut Bar and present member of Bar Council of UP – Anil Kumar Bakshi proudly points out that he is among the few lawyers who have been to jail because of his active participation in the holy struggle for creating a high court bench in West UP? This is because it is certainly one of the most holy struggle and this alone explains that why lawyers here are ready to go to any extent to ensure that a high court bench is created here! Going on strike for months and months is easier said than done and only lawyers of West UP best understand that how much hardship they have faced to ensure that the sacred agitation for a high court bench in West UP continue uninterrupted!
How long will Centre ignore that lawyers of West UP keep boycotting work every Justice BP Singh (retd) of Allahabad High Court too fully supports the demand for a bench in West UP but cautions that it will not become successful as long as it remains a lawyers movement and it can become successful only if it becomes a people’s movement! since 1981 demanding high court bench and apart from this keep boycotting work even on Wednesdays many times apart from other days which is decided by Central Action Committee constituted way back in 1981 to pursue the people’s struggle for a high court bench in West UP as it is the common man who faces the most inconvenience due to West UP not having a bench here since 1947?
How long will more than 9 crore people of West UP be made to travel more than 700 km on an average to travel all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench in West UP? How long will Centre keep coughing out innumerable excuses for not creating a bench here? How long will Centre keep treating more than 9 crore people of West UP as third rated citizens who must be made to travel all the way to Allahabad just to attend a court hearing as there is no high court bench in West UP? How long will Centre ignore the latest recommendations of the 230th Law Commission report which strongly recommended creation of more high court benches and castigated the “Uncle Judges” culture prevalent in various high courts due to lack of more benches?
Dr Satyapal Singh who is the former Mumbai Police Commissioner and presently represents Baghpat constituency as BJP MP recently made Union Minister raised most forcefully the pressing issue of setting up of a high court bench issue in Lok Sabha on March 9, 2016. He pointed out how despite UP having more than 22 crore population and 75 districts has least benches and West UP has none! Should we proud of this? He rightly said that, “I had raised the issue of the HC bench in the Lok Sabha. This is not only a need for lawyers but also the need of the common people as well. There should be a bench in Meerut, Agra, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Jhansi. If the Lucknow bench of HC can be created for 12 districts, why can’t we have 4-5 separate benches for all the 75 districts in the state? The first war of independence began from Meerut and the movement to provide affordable justice to people should also start from Meerut. I have already written a letter to PM Modi and I will write to him again. We don’t need the consent of either the state government or the CJ of the Allahabad HC”.
Misbauddin Siddiqui who is the President of the Meerut District Bar Association lamented, “The problem is that the Allahabad High Court has the highest number of pending cases. The pressure is huge. Allahabad is very far from Western UP. It is around 800 km from Saharanpur. Eight other high courts are closer to Western UP, and interestingly Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer than Allahabad High Court. The cost of travelling to Allahabad, and then staying there is huge for poor people. That is why we have been demanding a high court bench. Successive governments have denied us this.” All we see is strike, strike and nothing but strike and no work in the courts of the 26 districts of West UP!
How long will Centre ignore that none other than eminent jurist Soli J Sorabjee as Attorney General had strongly said way back in 2001 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”. How long will Centre ignore what BN Krishnamani who is the former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman had said 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”?
Why the newly appointed Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhonsle rightly lashed out at the law and order situation in UP and said that in Maharashtra women or girl venture out in night anywhere yet never such incidents of gang rape occur? Yet why Maharashtra has 3 benches and UP only one and West UP none?
Why even Atal Bihari Vajpayee raised the demand of a high court bench in West UP inside Parliament way back in 1986? Why Rajnath Singh who is Union Home Minister while addressing public gathering in Patiyali constituency of Kasarganj district is on record stating in February 2017 that UP reported 7,673 riots, 4660 murder, 4096 robberies and 260 dacoities in just one year yet it has least benches in India and West UP has none where maximum crime incidents are reported?
Let me on a very bitter note point out that crime against women are multiplying most rapidly in UP and this is most felt in West UP which is the worst affected of all the regions of UP. Throwing of acid on woman or rape, gang rape, molestation and all other forms of crimes against women and girls are openly being perpetrated in West UP especially as also in UP which is certainly most concerning!
We are all seeing how Saharanpur is burning after violent clashes erupted between Dalits and Thakurs that left many dead and many injured! We all saw how BSP leader Munawwar Hasan Rana and his 6 family members were brutally killed in Muzaffarnagar just recently and a BJP leader too killed most recently in Ghaziabad! We all know how Meerut and Agra top in the number of incidents of communal clashes and how everyday the local newspapers is flooded with cases of murders, rapes and other heinous crimes! The situation in communally sensitive districts like Aligarh and Kanpur in West UP among others is no better! Still no effort is being made to establish a high court bench here! Why?
This West UP with 26 districts has an area of 98,000 square km which is more than the area of many other states and has a population of more than 9 crore which is more than any other state except Maharashtra and Bihar. Here too areawise West UP is bigger than Bihar which has an area of 94,000 square km. Yet no bench!
It is most hurting to read that dacoits are fearlessly killing innocent people on highway as happened most recently on May 25 and then in front of their men had the guts to gang rape the 4 women accompanying them just a kilometer away from the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida and when one man resisted he was shot in the chest from point blank range who died and others were thrashed badly! Even after a week police has no clue as to who were involved! This shows the complete lawlessness in West UP! This clearly demonstrates that women are not safe even when accompanied with their entire family!
Such incidents keep happening on a regular basis in West UP especially! 2 minor girls were gangraped recently in Moradabad! Many more have taken place even after! Criminals fully know that West UP has no high court bench and Allahabad High Court tops in the number of pending cases about 10 lakh pending cases and it would take ages before the cases are finally decided as they keep on lingering interminably and by the time they are decided they would die a natural death and victims would suffer endlessly travelling again and again 800-900 km away from West UP to Allahabad as West UP with 26 districts have no high court bench!
This must change now if the fear of law is to be ingrained permanently in the minds of such criminals! We all know fully well that how a similar incident had triggered huge protests in July 2016 when a mother and daughter were gangraped in Bulandshahar! Why talk about women alone? Even men are not safe here! Policemen themselves are not safe here! Criminals are killing whomever they want with impunity and then we see how they easily manage to get bail and the criminal cases keep pending interminably! This must stop forthwith if a semblance of law and order is to be restored in UP! But how? By ensuring that cases against criminals are decided at the earliest.
How can this be ensured that cases are decided at the earliest against criminals? By setting up at least 10 high court benches in Meerut, Agra, Kanpur, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Mahoba, Sultanpur, Aligarh, Badaun or at any other place which is in desperate need of the same! This cannot be allowed to fester indefinitely as we have already lost a lot of precious time! What a pity that Centre is not prepared to set up even one more bench anywhere in UP!
Eminent and senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal himself had mentioned that he had recommended a high court bench at Meerut as was disclosed by another Union Minister in UPA regime – RPN Singh but the then state government led by Akhilesh Yadav refused to endorse it! It was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand had recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut but even after 62 years we see no bench as Centre had refused then! Similarly many other UP CM had also recommended the creation of a high court bench here but to no avail! Why? Our former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had himself raised the demand for a high court bench for West UP in 1986 inside Parliament but even after more than 30 years we are nowhere!
What an unbeatable irony that Allahabad High Court tops with maximum pending cases at 10 lakh and still it has least high court benches – only one at Lucknow for just 8 districts! No other High Court in India has 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 cases pending and still some of them have got 3 high court benches like Karnataka, Maharashtra and others but UP has just one bench only! Why this step-motherly treatment for UP?
How long will Centre ignore that only Karnataka has 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 are just about 1 lakh and that of UP are more than 10 lakhs and that of West UP alone are more than 5 lalkhs still West UP has no bench and UP has just one bench? Why Centre decided to create high courts for Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur with just 36, 29 and 27 lakh population but denied a bench to West UP with more than 9 crore population?
How long will Centre ignore that it is a matter of great shame that Allahabad High Court which on March 17, 2016 had completed its 150th year of establishment has the least benches in India – only one at Lucknow just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad and that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and also the oldest court? How long will Centre ignore that UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 22 crore, 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, maximum vacancies of Judges – about 78 in high court, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, maximum dowry 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? How long will Centre ignore 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 yet has least benches?
How long will Centre ignore that if a high court bench is created it is “poorest of poor” 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? How long will Centre keep dilly-dallying on such a burning issue that directly affects a common man? What will temple give? Only Hindu devotees will be satisfied and for justice they too who live in West UP would have to march 700-800 km all the way to Allahabad senselessly as we see right now! When a bench can exist in Lucknow then why not in West UP? Centre must have some pity on woman who are most unsafe in lawless UP and especially West UP 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 creation of bench here on a war footing by which people of all religions and all castes and all sexes will benefit equally!
Above all, how long will Centre very conveniently ignore that it is West UP alone where there are maximum cases of riots, murders, rapes, gangrapes and all other incidents of crime yet West UP has no bench? Nehruji created a bench in Lucknow 70 years ago in 1948 but why no PM till 2018 is ever willing to create even a single bench elsewhere? Why no PM can act like Nehruji in 2018? Gajendra Pal Singh who is former President of Meerut Bar laments that, “Western UP still does not have high court bench. Think of this, Western UP is 98,933 square kilometres in area. It is bigger than countries like Hungary, Portugal and Jordan. Plus, the population of West UP is huge. We have been demanding a high court bench for so long. Successive governments have done nothing about it. This high court bench has been promised to us multiple times by different politicians. But, nothing has happened. All those statements are only political statements, nothing else.”
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.