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Most Shocking That UP Has Just One High Court Bench



“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

- Albert Einstein 

It is most shocking to see that a peaceful, one of the most developed and most prosperous state like Maharashtra has 4 high court benches at Panaji, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Kolhapur apart from High Court at Mumbai and similarly Assam also has 4 high court benches, Karnataka has 3 and Madhya Pradesh has two but on the contrary UP which has maximum pending cases in India among all the states which is more than the cases of 10 states put together and still has just one high court bench and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad where high court itself is located at Lucknow and nowhere else! It is most shocking that UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 23 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 Judges both in High Court – 160 and also in lower courts, maximum vacancies of Judges about 60, maximum members in UP Bar Council more than 1 lakh and which is also the largest Bar Council in the world 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 8 districts has a bench!

Truth be told, Rajnath Singh who is Union Defence Minister and also former CM of UP while addressing a public gathering in Patiyali constituency of Kasarganj district is on record stating that in February 2017 that UP reported 7673 riots, 4660 murder, 4096 robberies and 260 dacoities in just one year alone and has pledged his unstinted support for a high court bench in West UP still why not a single created till now? It is most shocking to see that just recently on 31 December 2020, a two Judge Bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey in Abdul Qayoom Chalkoo v. Union Territory of JK & Ors in [LPA No. 123/2020 CM No. 4168/2020] while underlining the difficulties faced by the litigants of the Kashmir region in pursuing their cases before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jammu Bench hoped that difficulties in the process of establishment of the Bench of the CAT at Srinagar are removed “as expeditiously as possible”. What is the distance between Jammu and Srinagar? It is just 266 km by road and 151 km by flight! 

Just imagine this that the people of 26 districts of West UP have to travel more than 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad to attend hearings at high Court as there is no High Court Bench in any of the 26 districts of West UP but still no one feels sorry for them just like we saw in the above case! Why no Judges of Allahabad High Court have ever similarly as we see above in case of Jammu and Kashmir ever ordered the creation of benches in West UP? Why even Supreme Court Judges said nothing on it?

Why the people of 13 districts of now Uttarakhand who till 2000 formed part of UP were compelled to travel thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad to attend court hearings? Can on earth there be anything more ridiculous than this? One thing can be more ridiculous and that is when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by the late former PM Mrs Indira Gandhi in mid seventies to look into where all benches should be created, it was implemented promptly in Aurangabad in Maharashtra in 1985 even though it already had two high court benches at Panaji and Nagpur and also in Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal which already has a circuit bench at Port Blair for just 3 lakh people of Andaman and Nicobar island but the three benches recommended for undivided UP at Dehradun, Agra and Nainital were not implemented by Centre and this is the worst tragedy that independent India has seen till now which culminated in demand of people for separate state as they felt most discriminated against! Can Centre ever exonerate itself from the dirty role it played in denying UP even a single more bench apart from the one at Lucknow which is so near to Allahabad just about 200 km and can be reached in just 2 hours by road but not anywhere else and that too way back in 1948 and this most pathetic and terrible state of affairs prevails till now even 74 years later since independence as no bench has been created anywhere else? As if this was not enough, once again in 2018 one more bench was created for just 6 districts of Maharashtra but not a single more for UP! Disgusting! 

Why Opposition especially Congress which has ruled for more than 60 years at Centre never created high court benches for UP especially West UP inhabited by a huge population of farmers where people numbering more than 9 crore have to travel more than 700 km on an average whole night like a fool all the way to Allahabad just because a single bench of high court was shamelessly, senselessly and stupidly created by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru just 200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow in 1948 and here too decided that people of West UP would be required to travel to Allahabad and not Lucknow which is much closer to West UP. Nehru reprimanded the then Congress CM Sampoornanad when he rightly recommended high court bench at Meerut in 1955?

Most baffling that why even BJP is emulating Congress on this key issue since last 6 years now and 5 years earlier in former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term as PM from 1999 till 2004 even though he had himself raised the demand for a high court bench very strongly in Parliament in 1986? If Lucknow is capital then so is Bhopal of Madhya Pradesh but it has high court at Jabalpur and two benches at Gwalior and Indore, Trivandrum of Kerala but High Court is in Ernakulam, Bhubaneshwar of Odisha but High Court is in Cuttack, Raipur of Chhattisgarh but High Court is in Bilaspur, Dehradun of Uttarakhand but High Court is in Nainital, Dispur of Assam but High Court is in Gauhati etc still why they have neither high court nor bench? Why no one from Opposition shows them concern inspite of their agitating for the same for which lawyers of 26 districts of West UP have gone on strike for 6 months as in 2001, for 3 to 4 months as in 2014-15 and every Saturday since 1981 till now? Why farmers from Uttarakhand had to travel foolishly thousands of kilometers to attend court cases all the way to Allahabad from 1947 till 2000 when it was created as a separate state and why the historic recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge to create 3 benches in undivided UP at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun thrown to dustbin even though recommendations to create benches at other states like Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu were promptly created? This inspite of the fact that UP has maximum pending cases, maximum crime rate and what not due to which former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon termed UP as “rape and crime capital of India”!

It is a national disgrace 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 what not yet has least benches just one? It is a national disgrace that inspite of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee having vociferously raised the demand for a high court bench in West UP in 1986 right inside Parliament by thundering with all his might still 34 years later not a single bench created not just in West UP but in any hook and corner of UP except Lucknow created by Nehru in 1948! 

How long will Centre ignore that only Karnataka and Maharashtra have 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 of Karnataka are just less than 2 lakh and that of UP are more than 10 lakhs and that of West UP alone are more than 5 lakhs still West UP has no bench and UP has just one bench? How long will Centre ignore that Karnataka has just 6 crore population and still it has high court at Bangalore and 3 high court benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga but West UP has population of more than 9 crores still it has not even a single bench leave alone having high court? How long will Centre ignore that the High Courts and Benches of 8 states are nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court and even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP than Allahabad? How long will Centre ignore that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia with maximum Judges at 160 and also among the oldest courts which completed its 150 years on March 17, 2016 yet has just one bench only? 

It is most shameful and most disgraceful that Allahabad High Court has the dubious distinction of accounting for 14,207, or 98% of a total of 14,484 appeals that are pending adjudication for more than 30 years as was noted by a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat and yet no Prime Minister starting from Jawaharlal Nehru to present Narendra Modi has ever dared to create one more Bench apart from the one at Lucknow created in 1948 which is so close to Allahabad! What a pity that an anguished Supreme Court said that, “These facts pose a challenge to the judicial system, inasmuch as the right to speedy trial would also include the right to speedy disposal of appeals of those convicted. If such appeals are not taken up for hearing within a reasonable time, the right of appeal itself would be illusory, inasmuch as incarcerated convicts (who are denied bail) would have undergone a major part, if not whole of the period, of their sentences!”

It is most shameful and most disgraceful that Allahabad High Court has the dubious distinction of accounting for 14,207, or 98% of a total of 14,484 appeals that are pending adjudication for more than 30 years as was noted by a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat and yet no Prime Minister starting from Jawaharlal Nehru to present Narendra Modi has ever dared to create one more Bench apart from the one at Lucknow created in 1948 which is so close to Allahabad! What a pity that an anguished Supreme Court said that, “These facts pose a challenge to the judicial system, inasmuch as the right to speedy trial would also include the right to speedy disposal of appeals of those convicted. If such appeals are not taken up for hearing within a reasonable time, the right of appeal itself would be illusory, inasmuch as incarcerated convicts (who are denied bail) would have undergone a major part, if not whole of the period, of their sentences!”

To be sure, Justices Rao and Bhat also noted that over 33,000 appeals were pending in these 10 High Courts for a period between 20 to 30 years, and again Allahabad High Court had the lion’s share accounting for nearly 20,000 of them. The appeals waiting their turn to be heard for the last 10 to 20 years numbered at 2,35,914 of which 88,732 were in Allahabad High Court! These are all facts and not concocted stories!

Needless to say, this alone explains why Nani Palkivala one of the most brilliant jurist this earth has produced once famously said that, “While it is true that justice should be blind, in our country it is also lame. It barely manages to hobble along. The law may or may not be an ass but in India, it is a snail; it moves at a pace which would be regarded as unduly slow in a community of snails.” 

Why then should all such steps not be taken to put our judicial system back on rails and not allow it to be in ventilator as most unfortunately we have shamelessly allowed in last 74 years and this holds true most for UP and here too West UP which accounts for more than half of pending cases and still has not even a single bench? Why can't more high court benches be created in UP so that cases are expedited in different benches as was recommended by the 230th report of Law Commission of India as UP has maximum pending cases in India but which till now has been implemented only in peaceful states like Karnataka and Maharashtra which is most shocking? Population of Karnataka is just 6 crore and that of West UP is 9 crore still Karnataka has high court at Bangalore and three Benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga but West UP has not even a single Bench and UP has just one! Pathetic! Shameful! How can Centre take such ridiculous decisions? Why even Supreme Court till date has never intervened on this? 

Why when former CJI Ranjan Gogoi while deciding on a PIL brought by a woman lawyer KL Chitra for a high court bench in West UP in 2018 fully appreciated the reasons for setting up a high court bench in West UP but added that it is for Centre to take a decision and yet even after 74 years of independence if Centre fails to act not just for West UP but for whole of UP should Supreme Court not take suo motu action and order for more benches not just in West UP but also in other different parts like Jhansi in Bundelkhand, Gorakhpur in Purvanchal and other needy places? Why Supreme Court never acts on this? It must act now most decisively as this serious issue directly concerns the judiciary! No more dilly-dallying now! Ideally Centre itself must act as was held by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi but Centre is in just no mood to do anything on this score at all!

Why is it that the landmark recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission which was headed by former Supreme Court Judge to create more benches were implemented in few states and only UP was left out to suffer endlessly in the cold in the mid seventies? Why is it that when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission recommended 3 high court benches for UP at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun did Centre ensure that not even a single high court bench was approved for UP and for other states single bench were approved promptly like for Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Aurangabad in Maharashtra?

As if this was not enough, why is it that one more bench was created for Maharashtra at Kolhapur for just 6 districts in 2018 due to which lawyers of West UP even went on token strike but for 26 districts of West UP not even a single bench approved till now with population of more than 9 crore which is 3 crore more than Karnataka with 6 crore which has high court and 3 benches? Why is UP sidelined repeatedly? What sort of equality is this? Is this not the worst violation of right to equality? Centre must answer!

No wonder that Maharashtra tops in the latest justice index ranking among States and UP figures at bottom! It is this step-motherly treatment accorded by Centre to UP which is most hurting and is biggest violation of Article 14 which talks about right to equality. As if this was not enough, Centre ensured that only Eastern UP had high court at Allahabad and a single bench approved in 1948 only for Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad and nowhere else! It is because of this stupidity that the people of 26 districts of West UP are compelled to travel more than 700 km all the way to Allahabad to get justice and attend court hearings many times without reservation whole night to reach Allahabad which is even far away from Lucknow which is still just about 500 km away from West UP!

Bluntly put: Is this is what Article 14 which talks about right to equality stands for? What sort of equality is this? Is Centre not making an open mockery of Article 14 of Indian Constitution? Why is it going unnoticed since such a long time? Why even Supreme Court has never intervened on it? Why Supreme Court feels that the people of West UP, Bundelkhand and other needy areas should only hope that Centre does something which is just not ready to budge! Most despicable!

It must also be asked: Are the people of West UP not entitled to get “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice” just like the people of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam etc? Why is it that the high court and benches of 8 states are closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad? Why even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court? Still should a high court bench not be created here?

Needless to say, Centre must clarify its stand and not maintain a conspicuous and deafening silence on it! Former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee had clearly said in 2001 while he was Attorney General that, “Centre is fully empowered to create a bench in any of the districts in West UP without any recommendation from the Chief Justice or anyone else in this regard.” Former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman Krishnamani had also said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in West UP will the people living here get real justice.”CJI Ranjan Gogoi while disposing of a petition on this filed by a lady advocate KL Chitra in 2018 had appreciated the dire need for a bench in West UP but also had said that it is for Centre to decide on it!

One hopes fervently that CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde will do something concrete on it before retiring in April 2021! He himself being a “bright gem” of a high court bench should certainly go into it deep and set up benches not just in West UP but also in other needy places in different states as was rightly recommended by 230th report of Law Commission of India also so that more talent comes to the horizon from the biggest populated state of India and we see that the “poorest of poor” people get “justice at doorsteps” and they are not compelled to travel a long way to get justice as it is they who have to spend more and suffer innumerable hassles! He must act as Centre has failed to act in last more than 72 years especially in case of UP and Bihar which inspite of being lawless states have just one bench and no bench respectively!

It is most shocking that peaceful states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Madhya Pradesh among others have more high court benches but the most lawless states like UP have either just one or no bench at all as we see in Bihar! This what I find most disturbing and also most atrocious! This must be set right at the earliest!

Let’s hope fervently that CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde before retiring will act courageously on this score and do what none of his predecessors has ever dared to do and tended to play safe by always leaving the ball in Centre’s court which in turn has done just nothing at all even though the incumbent Law Minister of India Ravi Shankar Prasad is from Bihar and the PM Narendra Modi himself is from UP representing Varanasi! They have only chosen to ensure that one more bench was created at Kolhapur in Maharashtra for just 6 districts which already had 3 benches at Panaji, Nagpur and Aurangabad! The former Chief Justice of UP – Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale who hails from Maharashtra while in office had lambasted that women in Maharashtra are safe even at night and can go anywhere alone and this even I had seen myself while doing LLB from Symbiosis Law College in Pune but in UP he said that women are not safe even with their family and that too in broad daylight on national highway while hearing a case on woman being beaten and molested and gang-raped and what not in Bulandshahr which is again in West UP! Still Centre is not ready to create a bench!

As if this is not enough, the lawyers of West UP have been on strike for nearly 40 years every Saturday from May 1981 till now! Not just this, the lawyers of West UP have even gone on 6 months strike as we saw in 2001 and 3 to 4 months strike as happened in 2014-15 and many times on Wednesday and Saturday and many times for weeks! Why Centre is so adamant? Even Kapil Sibal as Union Law Minister had recommended High Court Bench at Meerut as was disclosed by former UPA Union Minister RPN Singh just like Sampoornanand who was the then UP CM had recommended in 1955 in Meerut and former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Opposition leader had raised it in Parliament in 1986 still we see no bench anywhere not just in Meerut or in West UP or in Bundelkhand but in any hook and corner of UP except the one at Lucknow created in 1948!

No doubt, the clogged arteries of our legal system can only be declogged by creating more high court benches in big states as recommended by 230th report of Law Commission of India! It may well be argued that it is well nigh impossible to implement “justice at doorsteps” and “speedy justice” and “justice for all” as enshrined in various Articles in our Constitution without creating more high court benches in big states like UP! Centre must pay heed to what Dr BR Ambedkar had said that, “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.”

“Let justice be done though heaven falls” goes a well known adage and it deserves to be implemented in UP by creating more benches so that the more than 9 crore people of West UP are not compelled to travel all the way to Allahabad to get justice! Centre must honestly introspect and ask itself: Why a state like UP which tops the state list of maximum pending cases has just one bench and that too so near to Allahabad and nowhere else due to which people of West UP of 26 districts are compelled to travel whole night time and again to attend court hearings and same holds true for other far away places like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal? Why another lawless state like Bihar has not even a single high court bench? This alone explains why even filmmakers crack mocking songs like “Mein Aayi hun UP, Bihar lootene” and never hear anyone saying that, “Mein Aayi hun Maharashtra, Karnataka or Assam lootene”! High time that Centre acts decisively in this regard instead of passing the buck to the Chief Minister or Chief Justice or Full Bench of Allahabad High Court as we have seen in past because it is the litigants of more than 26 districts of West UP who will benefit and so will the people of other far away places of UP and Bihar! This utter neglect of West UP in particular and UP in general and so also Bihar must be given a full stop now!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh