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UP Must Have At Least 10 High Court Benches

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, 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!
                                   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 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 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! 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 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! 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 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.  
                                                Still you see the irony! Maharashtra has 3 high court benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa apart from 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?

                                                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 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  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 150 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! 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! 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! 
                                          What a shame that man and boys in West UP have the guts to indulge in molestation as they 14 of them did in Rampur district in West UP when they  molested and assaulted 2 girls in broad daylight in a village under Tanda police station in Rampur and also filmed the act on their cellphone cameras and later put it on Facebook! One accused even forcibly lifts her up laughing! While the girls are seen pleading with them to let them go, the youths are seen laughing and misbehaving with them! This is fast becoming the norm in West UP and even UP!
                                      We all saw how recently in Kushinagar a rapist got bail and after coming out he again tried to rape the same victim and threatened her with dire consequences! Even hospitals are not safe for women and we read recently how a woman was raped in a top hospital itself by rapists in capital of UP that is Lucknow without any fear whatsoever!
                            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?  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 and has pledged on numerous occasions his unstinted support for a high court bench in West UP but even after his BJP led government is nearing 3 years in power yet it has failed to create even a single more bench of high court not just in West UP but anywhere in UP! Why?
                                                                                                                        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 last year 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 and so is the case with many other big cities which neither have high court nor 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 70 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 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 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 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?
                                              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! 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! 
                                         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 Saturday 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 sometimes from Centre and sometimes from State! Nothing else! 
                                           Finally and most importantly, now no more delay and no more lame excuses! Now only and only more benches for UP! Only then will the more than 22 crore people of UP get some relief especially women and girls who are most vulnerable to all types of crimes and will not have to waste huge money and time to get justice which they don’t get usually in their lifetime as Allahabad High Court is overloaded with more than 10 lakh pending cases and more than half of High Court Judges post are still lying vacant! This open endless sham must end now!
                                           If a high court bench is created 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 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!    
                                               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? Why Centre has overlooked that as UP accounts for maximum pending cases – more than 10 lakh cases and here too West UP accounts for more than 57% of pending cases, UP must have maximum and not minimum benches and West UP must have most benches and not none?
                                         Why Centre takes no time in creating high court itself at Sikkim where the number of pending cases are just 69 - 54 civil and 15 criminal but fails to approve even a single bench for West UP which has several lakhs of pending cases? Why Centre takes no time in creating two more high court benches for Karnataka which has just 6 crore population at Gulbarga and Dharwad even though the number of pending cases are just 1,55,690 and it already had a bench at Hubli whereas in UP the population is 20 crore and the number of pending cases are more than 10 lakh at least yet it has least benches in India and West UP with 26 districts and more than 7 lakh cases have none but Centre refuses to approve even a single bench leave alone 3 benches as recommended by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission? Not just this, it refuses to set up even a single bench in any hook and corner of UP even though senior Cabinet Ministers like Rajnath Singh, Dr Sanjeev Baliyan etc repeatedly keep pledging their unstinted support for a bench!
 In an unprecedented event which shall definitely have far-reaching consequences, the Chairman of UP Bar Council – Anil Pratap Singh while addressing lawyers at Meerut just recently very categorically said that it is necessary to create at Meerut a Bench of High Court. Never before in my life have I ever seen such a senior and distinguished lawyer of eminence openly supporting the age old demand for a high court bench for West UP at Meerut. The lawyers of not just Meerut but of entire West UP are very happy with this historic development which shall certainly have far reaching consequences!
                                                         Anil Pratap Singh who has been the Chairman of UP Bar Council has not just assured his unstinted support for the age old demand for a high court bench in West UP but has also said unambiguously that very soon along with a delegation of senior lawyers would meet the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court to press for the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP. He also said that according to population and the number of pending cases also it was imperative to create a High Court Bench in West UP. We all know that UP has maximum pending cases in India with Allahabad High Court owing for more than 10 lakh cases which is highest among all High Courts and here too cases from West UP are more than 57% which was accepted by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission also way back in late 1970s!
                                                       Anil Pratap also said that very soon he would make sure that a High court Bench would be created in West UP! For the first time we can see that a real glimmer of hope is emerging for the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP. One hopes that it materializes soon.
                                             I must express my utmost gratitude and profuse compliments to former Justice BP Singh (retd) of Allahabad High Court for not just accepting the invitation to swear in the newly elected members of Meerut Bar but also publicly supporting the age-old demand for a high court bench in West UP. He said that Centre should promptly create a high court bench in West UP without any more further delay. He also exhorted the lawyers of Meerut Bar to make bench movement a public movement. He also suggested that it is only by connecting people that the bench movement will be made stronger.
                                     Justice BP Singh minced no words in making it absolutely clear that as long as this bench movement for creation of a high court bench in West UP is restricted to lawyers only and will not get connected with people it will never attain success. It is a no brainer thus that the more than 9 crore people of West UP would have to connect with this bench issue to make it a splendid success. There can be no denying this and when such an experienced Judge of the Allahabad High Court himself says this on record, what more should I say?
                                            It is a matter of deep anguish that lawyers who represent people in court and are law officers of court are increasingly being targeted by criminals themselves and killed without any fear. How can any legal system operate where lawyers are themselves not safe? Lawyers all across UP are not safe and feel constantly threatened to heir lives. This alone explains why at the call of the UP Bar Council, lawyers all across UP keep going on strike as the lawyers keep getting killed every now and then! Why Ajay Kumar Shukla who is a senior advocate in Allahabad high court and former Chairman of UP Bar Council support creation of a bench in West UP as also Madhulika Yadav who is Vice Chairman of UP Bar Council? It is because as Rajinder Chaudhary who was a senior minister in former UP CM Akhilesh’s Cabinet noted while addressing lawyers of Meerut Bar that UP needs not just one or two but 6 benches!
                                      Who will benefit if more high court benches are built –  Hindus alone or Muslims alone or Sikhs alone or Christians alone? No, all people of all religions will benefit equally if more high court benches are built especially in UP which is notorious for being the “rape and crime capital of India” as former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon put it aptly! Then why are all politicians of all parties adamant that except the one bench created by Jawaharlal Nehru about 70 years back at Lucknow on July 1, 1948 no bench should be created anywhere else under any circumstances? Is the ghost of Nehruji compelling them to behave so irrationally? Why the recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission to create a high court bench at Aurangabad was promptly accepted but recommendations to create 3 high court benches at Nainital, Agra and Dehradun were blatantly disregarded?  
                                            If a high court bench is created it is “poorest of poor” of all castes and all religions and the most deprived and hapless women of all religions and all castes 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! 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 as we see right now! Centre must have some pity on woman at least now 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!  
                                              Dr Satyapal Singh who is the former Mumbai Police Commissioner and presently represents Baghpat constituency as BJP MP 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 on Wednesday. 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”.

                                         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 50 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? Introspect! UP needs more benches and not anti-Romeo squads! UP needs more benches and not more temples!  
Sanjeeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kaankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.