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Centre's attitude 'ludicrous' as growing list of MPs demand new HC bench for west UP

By Sanjeev Sirohi*
It is heartening that one after other leaders both from BJP and Opposition parties like BSP are raising the demand for the creation of a high court bench in West UP. The latest to join the growing list of MPs demanding the creation of a high court bench in West UP is Kunwar Danish Ali of BSP from Amroha. He has demanded that it should be created at the earliest.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad did acknowledge that Danish Ali’s demand for a bench in West UP was valid and he assured that he would try on this. Danish Ali told the Centre that when it can finish any law in no time then why can’t it create a high court bench in West UP promptly? He also drew the attention of Parliament that the demand for a high court bench in West UP is very old and people have to travel so far due to which they have to waste both their time and money!
However, the reason cited by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for the delay in creating bench in West UP was ludicrous. The Centre must stop putting the onus on creating benches on Judges of the Allahabad High Court, especially its full bench. If West UP can’t be given bench, then the Centre must disband all high court benches in India.
The Union Law Minister overlooked what ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi, while disposing of a petition on this filed by a lady advocate KL Chitra last year, had said, while appreciating the dire need for a bench in West UP, that it is for the Centre to decide on it.
How can the Union Law Minister ignore that even the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended the creation of a high court bench in West UP? When a bench can be created at Lucknow on July 1, 1948 why can’t a new bench be created even 72 years later?
Meanwhile, UP Bar Council chairman Harishankar Singh has warned that if the Centre and the UP state government do not pay attention to the demand for a high court bench for West UP, there will be a big agitation for it.
Calling upon advocates of West UP to give a memorandum for high court bench, Harishankar Singh said, the one state and one high court concept, said that in Lucknow there is a separate high court bench and there are many states where there are 2 to 3 high court benches. In fact, Assam and Maharashtra have 4 benches. He added, UP is the oldest state, and according to its area and population the demand for a high court bench is legitimate which will be fulfilled at all cost.
The Justice Jaswant Singh commission 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. It is baffling as to why no government the Centre has ever fulfilled the legitimate and compelling need for a high court bench in West UP for the more than nine crore people living here in 26 districts.
Why is the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who enjoys majority in both houses of Parliament, is not listening to even its own Union Ministers and MPs from West UP who repeatedly keep raising the demand for a high court bench in Parliament itself? Why is it ignoring former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had raised the demand for a high court bench in West UP right in Parliament while he was leader of Opposition?
Ravi Shankar Prasad
Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state, in India with maximum population at more than 23 crore, which is more than even that of Pakistan and many other countries, and there are only – three countries including China, India, USA – which have more population than UP, maximum MPs in Lok Sabha at 80, maximum MPs in Rajya Sabha at 31, maximum MLAs in Vidhan Sabha at 404, maximum MLAs in Vidhan Parishad at 100.
It has maximum judges at lower courts at more than 5000, maximum Judges in High Courts at 160, maximum pending cases in lower courts at more than 50 lakhs, maximum pending cases in high court at more than 10 lakh, maximum members in UP Bar Council, 3.5 lakh, the highest not just in India but in the whole world.
Allahabad High Court is the biggest high court not just in India but in whole of Asia, yet has just one bench which is so close at Lucknow – just 200 km away. It is also one of the oldest high courts, completing its 150 year of creation in 2016.
Who can deny that lawyers in West UP, even Supreme Court lawyers, are not safe in West UP, as seen in the recent brutal murder of lady advocate Kuljeet Kaur in Noida in West UP right inside her house? Similarly, former Chairperson of the UP Bar Council Darvesh Yadav within three days of being elected was brutally murdered right inside court premises in Agra in West UP by pumping three bullets on her.
More recently we saw a senior lawyer in Meerut, Mukesh Sharma, being brutally murdered just adjacent to his house. 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. The Centre's adamant approach to not creating any bench anywhere else in UP other than Lucknow is responsible for the demands being raised for separate state as we see in Bundelkhand, West UP, Poorvanchal and other parts also.
The Centre can create two more benches for a peaceful state like Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts, even though it had a bench already at Hubli, just 6 crore people living in the state, but for more than 9 crore people of West UP it is not ready to create even a single bench. Karnataka has just about 1 lakh pending cases, as against UP, which has more than 10 lakh pending cases, of which West UP alone has more than 5 lakh pending cases.
The 230th report of Law Commission of India in 2009 recommended creation of more high court benches as it would help people get speedy justice! Naresh Dutt Sharma, who is general secretary of Meerut Bar, has very rightly said, “The state government has several times sent resolutions for creating bench in West UP. The Central Action Committee of West UP has also spoken several times to State Government and done gherao also. Centre has the power to create a bench in West UP and ensure that cheap justice is given to people here.”
He added, “The Law Minister is misguiding Parliament. The Centre can directly create bench in UP. There is no need for any resolution. The Centre’s intentions are not noble on this. BJP leaders from West UP are also not determined due to which Bench has not been created here.”
---
*Senior advocate, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

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