Skip to main content

Centre 'discriminating' UP, is refusing more high court benches. Will CJI-designate act?

By Sanjeev Sirohi*
If more high court benches are created all over India, as was very recommended by the 230th report of the Law Commission of India, it will produce luminaries like the Chief Justice of India (CJI)-designate Sharad Arvind Bobde. It was the Nagpur High Court Bench which nurtured and groomed him as lawyer.
Bobde gave up his roaring practice to accept “judgeship”, and the rest is history. Would it have been possible if Nagpur had no high court bench? Without leaving his home and migrating anywhere else like in Mumbai, where the High Court is located, or at Aurangabad, where High Court Bench is also located, he could give his best and create a niche by becoming CJI designate, thus bringing glory not only to himself but also to Nagpur, where he practiced in high court bench for more than 22 years.
It is Maharashtra’s fortune that the Bombay High Court, which earlier had three high court benches at Nagpur, Kolhapur and Panaji, was accorded one more bench by the Centre in Kolhapur for just six districts in 2018. But it is India’s biggest misfortune that Uttar Pradesh (UP) has least -- which is incomprehensible.
Why no high court bench was created in UP even after the recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission, which was appointed by the then Indira Gandhi government in late 1970s? Justice Jaswant Singh recommended three high court benches for UP but not one was created, even though on its recommendations benches of high court were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.
Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state amongst all the states in India with maximum population at more than 22 crore, which is more than even that of Pakistan. Here, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi keep bragging at public rallies time and again about India's development. It has maximum MPs in Lok Sabha (80), maximum MPs in Rajya Sabha (31), maximum MLAs in Vidhan Sabha (404), maximum MLAs in Vidhan Parishad (100).
It has maximum judges at lower courts at more than 5,000, maximum judges in High Courts at 160, but also maximum pending cases in lower courts at more than 50 lakh, maximum pending cases in the High Court at more than 10 lakh, maximum members in UP Bar Council, which is more than one lakh, the highest not just in India but in the whole world, as is pointed out in the website of the UP Bar Council.
The state has, in fact, maximum elected representatives at all levels, including villages, like sarpanches, maximum villages, which are again more than one lakh, maximum tehsils, maximum mayors, maximum districts (75) -- and also maximum poverty.
Yet it has just one high court bench, that too just about 200 km away from Allahabad, at Lucknow. Jawaharlal Nehru created it on July 1, 1948, 72 years ago. Ironically, while a high court was set up in Uttarakhand in 2000 for 13 districts, whose people earlier had to travel far away for more than 50 years after independence, none exists for West UP, which has 26 districts, and is notorious for lawlessness.
Who can deny that the Bar Council of UP has maximum members in the whole world, yet its former chairperson Darvesh Yadav just within three days of being elected was brutally murdered right inside court premises by pumping three bullets on her?
Justice Bobde
Who can deny that even Supreme Court lawyers are not safe in West UP, and this stands vindicated by the recent brutal murder of lady advocate Kuljeet Kaur in Noida in West UP right inside her house? Who can deny that many senior lawyers in the past also have been brutally murdered, not just in West UP, but in other parts also, as we saw in Basti?
Recently we saw a senior lawyer in Meerut Mukesh Sharma being brutally murdered just adjacent to his house while he had gone for walk. Another advocate Zahid was murdered in Baghpat. In Muzaffarnagar still another advocate Ameer Saifi was murdered. For how long will West UP's legitimate claim for a high court bench be consistently ignored?
UP must have maximum benches in India, and not minimum, as most unfortunately we have been seeing for the last 72 years
UP must have maximum benches in India, and not minimum, as most unfortunately we have been seeing for the last 72 years. The Centre's adamant approach to not create any bench anywhere else in UP other than Lucknow is responsible for the demand being raised for separate state, as we see in Bundelkhand, West UP, Poorvanchal and other parts.
The Centre can create two more benches for a peaceful state like Karnataka with just 6 crore people, at Dharwad and Gulbarga, for just four and eight districts, respectively, even though it had a bench already at Hubli. But for more than 9 crore people of West UP it is not ready to create even a single bench. Incidentally, Karnataka has just about 1 lakh pending cases, as against UP, which has more than 10 lakh pending cases, half of them from West UP!
The same is true of Assam and Maharashtra, which have 4 benches each, even though their pending cases stand nowhere compared to UP, whom Ban Ki Moon, former UN Secretary General, slammed as "rape and crime capital of India". West UP has more cases, more than both the states put together!
Is this is what Article 14, which talks about right to equality, stands for? Is the Centre not making an open mockery of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution? 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 the Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer to West UP as compared to the Allahabad High Court?
Former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee said in 2001, while he was Attorney Geal, “The 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 also said, “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 last year, also appreciated the dire need for a bench in West UP, but added, it is for the Centre to decide on it. One hopes that the new CJI would seriously look into it.
He must act as the Centre has failed to act in the last more than 72 years, especially in case of UP and Bihar, which in spite of being lawless states have just one bench and no bench respectively!
One hopes he will act on this score and do what none of his predecessors has dared but tended to play safe by leaving the ball in the Centre’s court, which has done just nothing at all, even though the incumbent Law Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, is from Bihar and the Prime Minister represents Varanasi in UP.
---
*Advocate, Meerut, UP

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.