Monday, September 4, 2017
“Western UP still does not have a 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.”
- Gajendra Pal Singh who was Chairman of High Court Bench Central Action Committee for Western UP and also was twice President of Meerut Bar.
Why when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Jaswant Singh appointed by the late Mrs Indira Gandhi government in 1970s recommended 3 high court benches for UP and all 3 being in West UP and hilly areas adjoining them – Agra, Nainital and Dehradun did Centre decide not to approve even a single bench here? Why on basis of this same Justice Jaswant Singh Commission high court benches were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra? Why benches were also approved for Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu but not for West UP?
Why states like Karnataka, Maharashtra 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? 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? Why this step-motherly treatment with UP and especially West UP?
Why we see maximum cases of rapes, gangrapes as we saw recently in Jewar just a kilometer away from the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida while the 4 women who were gangraped while they were travelling on national highway and that too accompanied with their men and one men was even shot dead when he resisted and the other were brutally beaten and yet after more than 14 days we see no criminals being tracked down and yet we see no bench being created here even though politicians like Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh keep assuring repeatedly that very soon good news will be heard regarding this? Why we see no bench in West UP even though we see maximum cases of riots, arson, loot and crime from West UP as we saw recently in Saharanpur when violent clashes broke out between Thakurs and Dalits which left many injured and many dead? Why the high court and benches of 8 states are nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad and even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad yet no bench is being set up here?
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?
It is so shocking and disgusting to see that West UP is fast becoming the epicenter of all kinds of crimes, rapes, gangrapes, brutal murders, mass murders, dacoity, robbery and what not! What is even more shocking to see is that all political parties barring Samajwadi Party have openly espoused the creation of a high court bench in West UP but still even after seventy years of independence we see no sign of it happening anytime soon! What is most shocking is that inspite of West UP accounting for more than half of the crime cases all over UP, not a single high court bench has been created here since 1947 till now even though a high court bench was created at Lucknow which is just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad way back on July 1, 1948! Why Centre even after 70 years later in 2018 is not prepared to create even a single bench of high court in West UP in any of the 26 districts wherever it wants?
Why Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and also the oldest court yet it has least benches only one which is very close to Allahabad at Lucknow? Why no bench at any other place especially in West UP? Why Lucknow has bench when many other capitals like Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Thiruvananthapuram, Dehradun etc have neither high court nor bench?
Why Centre decided to create 2 more benches for Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts but not a single for West UP with 26 disricts? Why 230th report of Law Commission submitted in 2009 which recommended creation of more benches has only been implemented in Karnataka alone and not in UP, Bihar or other big states? Why population of Karnataka is just about 6 crore and that of West UP alone is more than 9 crore yet Karnataka has high court and 3 benches but West UP has not even a single bench even though the pending cases in Karnataka are less than one lakh and that in West UP alone is more than 5 lakh in high court alone?
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? 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?
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!
Dr Satyapal Singh Malik who is BJP MP had raised the bench issue in Parliament last year and demanded creation of 5 benches but till now not even a single bench created here! Another Central minister and BJP MP Sanjeev Baliyan had also assured that by end of 2016 West UP will have a bench but what we see on ground is just nothing!
Lawyers of West UP have been striking work for 6 months without break several times demanding high court bench as they did in 2001 and for 3 months as they did in 2014-15 and we keep seeing strike nearly every month apart from the strike of Saturdays yet no bench! They even go on strike every since May 1981 to protest West UP not being given a bench even though Justice Jaswant Commission had explicitly recommended 3 benches! What they get is just fake assurances!
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." Why Centre ignores blithely what the Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association Krishna Mani had said quite 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!" Centre can also cite Justice Jaswant Singh Commission in its favour and 230th report of Law Commission in its favour. But like the previous governments it is just busy in trotting out excuses for not creating a high court bench in West UP!
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! The high court and benches of 8 states are nearer to West UP as compared to Meerut and even Lahore High Court is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad! Centre is just busy in trotting out excuses for not creating a high court bench in West UP and it will have to pay a very heavy price for this inexcusable crime in the coming elections in UP in 2017! You see for youself 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
Still should a high court bench not be created in West UP? Why no affirmative action is being taken in this regard even now after 70 years of independence when Jawaharlal Nehru had the guts and conviction to set up a high court bench way back in 1948 just 150-200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow? Why no Prime Minister after Nehruji took any step to create any bench anywhere else other than at Lucknow which was established under his stewardship way back on July 1, 1948?
In hindsight, it must be asked that when West UP contributes to 75% of total revenue of UP then why the people of West UP are compelled to travel so far to get justice? Rajinder Chaudhary who was a senior minister in UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s Cabinet while addressing lawyers of Meerut Bar strongly recommended creation of 6 more benches for UP and Anil Pratap Singh who is Chairman of UP Bar Council has also supported creation of a bench in West UP and even said that he would speak to Chief Justice and Chief Justice of India in this regard! Many Union Cabinet ministers like Rajnath Singh who is our home minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Gen VK Singh, etc have too strongly demanded creation of a bench in West UP! Still why no step is being taken to create a bench here?
Why the present CM Yogi Adityanath is happy in setting up anti-Romeo squads even though Aaj Tak newschannel exposed how some police cops are busy minting money on pretext of saving women from harassment? 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?
The point that I am trying to drive home here is: Why can’t a bench be 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 lawyers of West UP repeatedly feel compelled to go strike demanding a high court bench in West UP? Why still Centre is not addressing this so sensitive issue once and for all? Why BJP MPs from West UP keep assuring that bench will be created soon since last many years yet till now no bench? 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?
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! 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!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.