UP Must Have At Least 10 High Court Benches
When finances are needed for the purpose of improving the judicial system at the lower levels, there is reluctance to make such finances available. We do not seem to realise that it is subordinate courts which form the basis of the pyramid of justice and unless the base is strengthened, the pyramid is bound to crumble. It is often forgotten that the contact of the common man with the justice system occurs only at the level of the subordinate courts, he has rarely occasion to go to the High Court and therefore, if we want to inspire confidence in the common man that he can get justice, it is imperative to strengthen the subordinate judiciary.”
– Shri PN Bhagwati, Former CJI and longest serving Supreme Court Judge for 13 years
Will creation of more Benches not help in strengthening it further? At the outset , let me be categorical in stating that undoubtedly setting up of high court benches in needy places like West UP will not only be a very positive step strengthening our lower judiciary but also help in reducing the huge backlog of pending cases to a great extent !
Can anyone deny that the 18th Law Commission in its 230th report noted : “In almost every High Court, there is huge pendency of cases and the present strength of the judges can hardly be said to be sufficient to cope with the alarming situation. It is also necessary that the work of the High Courts is decentralized, that is, more Benches are established in all States. If there is manifold increase in the strength of the judges and the staff, all cannot be housed in one campus. Therefore, the establishment of new Benches is necessary. It is also in the interest of the litigants. The Benches should be so established that a litigant is not required to travel long. It is true that the new establishments will require money, but it is necessary as a development measure, particularly, when efforts are being made for all-round development of the country. Therefore, the money should not be a problem. We have to watch and protect the interest of the litigants. We must always keep in mind that the existence of judges and advocates is because of the litigants and they are there to serve their cause only. Sometimes, some advocates object to creation of new Benches and selection of new sites for construction of new buildings. But they raise objections in their personal, limited interest. Creation of new Benches is certainly beneficial for the litigants and the lawyers and a beginning has to be made somewhere. A speedy trial is not only required to give quick justice but it is also an integral part of the fundamental right of life, personal liberty, as envisaged in article 21 of the Constitution. Article 39A of the Constitution provides for equal justice and free legal aid. The said article obligates the State to promote justice on a basis of equal opportunity and, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities?”
What can be a bigger injustice for the common man of West UP than the harsh and lamentable fact that the High Courts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and above all even Lahore High Court are nearer to West UP in comparison to Allahabad High Court? Who suffers as a result? It is the common man who is the worst affected. Can we ignore the naked truth that in the whole of UP, 16 lakh cases are pending out of which 11 lakh cases are pertaining to West UP? Does this not necessitate the creation of a Bench in West UP?
Let me begin on a very bitter note by pointing 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 followed by lynching, 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! Even a 100 year old woman was attempted to be raped in Meerut who later succumbed to her injuries. While PM Narendra Modi was about to address a rally at Meerut during elections we saw how a woman was raped by a doctor and an attendant right in the hospital itself! Woman is not safe anywhere in West UP! We also saw how a woman was gang raped in Hapur and she then burnt herself in frustration as no strict action was being taken against the culprits?
Why talk about women alone? Even men are not safe here! Policemen themselves are not safe here! Even children are not safe. We just saw how three children were mercilessly killed in Bulandshahr by fearless criminals! 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, Mathura 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! Why peaceful states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Madhya Pradesh among others have more high court benches than UP which tops among all the states in pending cases?
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 even 3 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?
We are all seeing how earlier Saharanpur was 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! Many more leaders have been killed since then in West UP and also in other parts of UP! 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!
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 few years back 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! 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! 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! The then 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 from where he hails women or girl venture out in night anywhere yet never such incidents of gang rape occur. On the contrary, in UP especially in West UP we repeatedly keep hearing incidents of rape, gang rape followed by burning as we saw recently in Bulandshahr and also in Hathras!
Still you see the irony! Maharashtra has 3 high court benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji and now fourth one created at Kolhapur for just 6 districts apart from the high court at Mumbai but West UP has not even a single bench of high court! In UP itself both high court at Allahabad and a single bench at Lucknow are located so close to each other with a distance of just about 150-200 km. Why not a single bench of high court was created in West UP even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi very strongly recommended 3 benches for West UP and hilly areas adjoining it (which now form a separate state – Uttarakhand) at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun? 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? Uttarakhand whose population in 2000 was about 88 lakh got justice when a separate high court was created for it but what about more than 9 crore people of West UP – 19 years later not even a bench has been created leave alone high court!
It is most shocking and disgusting to see that Uttar Pradesh which is the most populated state in India has least high court benches – only one and that too just 150-200 km away from Allahabad where the high court is located! Why no high court bench for 26 districts of West UP which are about 700-800 km away from Allahabad where high court is located ? Why no high court bench for Bundelkhand region as the districts there too are very far away from Allahabad? Why no high court bench at Gorakhpur to which the present Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath belongs? Interestingly enough, Yogi Adityanath as MP had raised the bench issue in Parliament very vociferously a long time back!
Why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 23 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out every now and then, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies, maximum tehsils – 350, 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 as opposed to other states who have not more than few thousands at the most, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, custodial tortures, maximum dowry cases, maximum rape and gang rape cases, maximum acid throwing 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 200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow?
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 still no High Court Bench being created! 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 four 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 in 2021 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! 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 12 districts!
There is zero fear of law in West UP and UP! How long will the government keep tom-tomming the same old argument on lawlessness in West UP and UP? Why no strict action is taken against culprits?
Such criminals know fully well that Allahabad High Court has the highest number of pending cases – about 10 lakh as compared to other states where the number of pending cases don’t exceed 1 lakh or at the most 2 lakhs cases! They know that they will easily get bail and by the time cases are finally decided they will die a natural death. This must change which is possible only if at least in my opinion 10 more benches of high court are created in different parts of UP! Such poor, hapless women and girls, for God sake, need more high court benches and not more temples!
But see the unpalatable irony! Politicians are not prepared to create even a single bench anywhere in UP leave alone West UP! It is a matter of great shame that Allahabad High Court which in 2016 on March 17 had completed its 150th year of establishment has the least benches in India – only one at Lucknow and that too just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad! Why no high court bench in West UP at Meerut or Agra or at Jhansi or some other place? We all know that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and also the oldest court! Still why it has least benches in India only one which is so close to Allahabad? If Lucknow is capital of UP, Bhopal is also capital of MP, Bhubaneshwar is also capital of Odisha, Dispur which is capital of Assam, Bhubaneshwar which is capital of Odisha and so is the case with many other big cities which neither have high court nor even a bench!
Why politicians have ensured that a high court bench was created for Lucknow about 69 years back on July 1, 1948 but not at any other place especially in West UP, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur even 73 years later? 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 districts? 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 Karnataka has just 6 lakh population which is less than the population of even West UP which has 9 crore population, has less than 2 lakh pending cases as compared to UP which has 10 lakh pending cases still 2 more high court benches created for it but not a single more for UP?
When Dr Sampoornanand who was the UP CM way back in 1955 very strongly recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut, Jawaharlal Nehru refused as he felt that one bench at Lucknow was enough. The number of pending cases way back in 1948 were not much but see the situation now! West UP now accounts for more than half of the pending cases of total pending cases of UP and UP tops the maximum pending cases state list with 10 lakh pending cases still it has just one high court bench as no more benches were created in UP since 1948! Other states like Karnataka and Maharashtra don’t have 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 still they have got 3 high court benches but UP has only one! Is this fair? Why West UP with 9 crore population which has more than 20 districts also has not even a single Bench leave alone having High Court and 3 Benches as we see in case of Karnataka? Why this raw discrimination? Why for 4 and 8 districts in Karnataka are Benches created at Dharwad and Gulbarga but for more than 20 districts of West UP not a single High Court Bench is created till now? Centre cannot maintain a deafening silence on it all the time!
Why not a single bench of high court was created in West UP even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi very strongly recommended 3 benches for UP and hilly areas adjoining it which now form a separate state – Uttarakhand at Agra in West UP, Nainital and Dehradun? 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?
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 but the then state government led by Akhilesh Yadav refused to endorse it and this was candidly disclosed by former Union Minister RPN Singh himself! It was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand had recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut but even after 65 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 33 years we are nowhere!
Why can’t 10 high court benches be created for UP which has 75 districts which means at least one bench for 7 to 8 districts? Why 2 more high court benches for a peaceful state like Karnataka and not a single more for a lawless state like UP? What is stopping politicians from creating more benches in UP? They must answer! Lower courts in UP has more than 60 lakh cases pending and still we see that there is only one high court bench in UP and that too very near to Allahabad! Why? UP needs more benches and not anti-Romeo squads! UP needs more High Court Benches so that people of all religion benefit equally and not more temples! UP CM Yogi Adityanath had himself demanded a High Court Bench at Gorakhpur in 1999 but more than 21 years later even as he is on verge of completing 5 years in office we still see no more Bench not just in West UP but even in Gorakhpur or any other region! This is the real rub!