It is the biggest mystery on earth that why Allahabad High Court which is the biggest High Court in the whole world and has maximum pending cases among all the States in India and has still just one Bench only so close to Allahabad at Lucknow only and nowhere else created in July 1948! I am still struggling to comprehend that how can it happen that West UP which owes for more than half of the total pending cases of UP has not even a single High Court Bench and UP which tops the States list in having maximum number of pending cases both in High Courts and so also in Trial Courts has just one Bench only and States where there are much less pending cases like Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh there are multiple High Court Benches and Assam till 2012 had seven Benches and UP just one! This fills me up with huge sense of discontentment, despair and dejection on the nonchalant and ruthless manner in which Centre has dumped the long term interests and conveniences of the litigants of West UP in the backyard which cannot be justified ever under any circumstances.
Only one region and that is Eastern UP alone has both High Court and a single Bench which I find completely preposterous making a complete worst mockery of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission’s recommendations to create 3 High Court Benches in UP in mid 1970s and more than 50 years later we see not one Bench created in not just West UP but in any nook and corner of UP which I find most discriminatory and completely preposterous making a complete mockery of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission’s recommendations to create three High Court Benches in UP yet not one created while wasting no time simultaneously in creating High Court Bench at Aurangabad in Maharashtra as recommended and which already had multiple High Court Benches at Nagpur and Panaji and similarly West Bengal which already had Bench at Port Blair for just 3 lakh people was given one more for Jalpaiguri and one recommended for Madurai in Tamil Nadu also created! As if this was not enough, Centre did not implement the most landmark recommendations of the 230th report of the Law Commission of India for creation of more High Court Benches that were prepared under the Chairmanship of former Supreme Court Judge – late Dr AR Lakshmanan! Questions abound in the social and mainstream media about Centre’s motive on this key issue!
What rankles, ruffles, rattles and ruptures my peace of mind most forcefully is to see that even now Centre is failing to realize the gravity of the situation and act to salvage the situation in going from worse to worst! In my free, frank and fair assessment, Centre is fully empowered to create a High Court Bench in West UP but under unrelenting pressure from powerful lobby opposing as the lawyers of West UP keep alleging we see that all attempts of securing a Bench are bulldozed most mercilessly!
I don’t think that it would be a correct assessment that UP needs least High Court Benches in India which tops the State list in having maximum number of pending cases and West UP which owes for more than half of the total number of pending cases of UP and from where litigants have to travel about 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad and not even Lucknow which falls more than 230 kms earlier to seek justice which is the worst mockery of our democratic framework in India yet Centre is taking it most lightly by putting the onus most wrongly of decision making on Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court which is indeed laughable! No pretext and no excuses of any kind can ever justify the denial of even a single High Court Bench for West UP and so also for other needy regions of UP like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal! The truth of the matter is: Centre is just not at all serious in addressing this key issue of High Court Benches in West UP and other needy regions which I find most perplexing and just keeps dishing out one lame excuse or the other to deny not just West UP but all other needy regions of UP any more High Court Bench!
What I really find most troubling is: Centre inspite of so many agitations, strikes and what not by lawyers of West UP since last 77 years still considers not a single district not just in West UP but in whole of UP other than at Lucknow to be deemed fit to be given even a single Bench and thus by its actions slams them as “legally most worthless cities”! Is this appropriate? Can this be ever justified from any angle? The specious argument that West UP needs no Bench just like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal is totally untenable and deserves to be rejected outrightly in its entirety!
It is a matter of deepest regret that lawyers of West UP have been agitating since last so many decades not for their own benefit but for the benefit of the litigants who have to travel so far about 650 to 750 km on an average all the way to not even Lucknow which falls more than 230 km earlier and where the single High Court Bench of Uttar Pradesh is located but right uptill Allahabad with whom the 30 districts of West UP are attached to seek justice but to no avail. The senior lawyers of West UP even formed a “Kendriya Sangharsh Samiti” termed in English as “Central Action Committee” many decades ago in which lawyers of 22 districts came together under one banner under the leadership of lawyers of Meerut to fight unitedly against the worst discrimination perpetrated upon West UP by denying it even a single High Court Bench even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge and not by some politician had very strongly recommended for a Bench in West UP and so also two Benches for hilly areas of undivided UP at Dehradun and Nainital yet not one created most disgracefully by Centre and in the most blatant act of discrimination perpetrated upon by Centre most chillingly approved one more High Court Bench for Maharashtra at Aurangabad as recommended even though Maharashtra already had multiple High Court Benches at Nagpur and Panaji and so also for West Bengal at Jalpaiguri for just 6 districts as recommended even though it had a Bench at Port Blair for just 3 lakh people and so also for Madurai at Tamil Nadu as recommended. Since May 1981 till November 2023, the lawyers of West UP have been going on strike every Saturday in protest against this worst discrimination that was perpetrated upon by Centre and repeatedly made pleas for creating a Bench in any of the districts of West UP but all pleas fell on deaf ears! On November 8, the lawyers of West UP were on strike and on November 18, the lawyers will again boycott work, protest peacefully demanding High Court Bench in different places and senior lawyers under banner of Central Action Committee will meet in Moradabad to draw its strategy afresh as has been happening since last so many decades and reaffirm its full solidarity to continue till the demand is finally met!
As if this was not enough, Centre most disgracefully yet again approved two High Court Benches for Karnataka with a population of just 6 crores at Dharwad and Gulbarga respectively but for West UP with a population of more than 10 crores and 30 districts with 22 districts coming under one banner yet we see Centre not approving even a single High Court Bench despite lawyers submitting memorandum since last many decades and keeps dishing out one lame excuse or the other to justify denial of even a single High Court Bench to West UP which cannot be ever justified! To top it all, we find that even the Apex Court has failed to take suo motu cognizance of this open blatant fraud striking at the very root of the concept of “justice at doorsteps” and “equality” as envisaged in Article 14 of the Constitution! More than anything else, what pinches the people of West UP most is that Lucknow which is so close to Allahabad can have High Court Bench since 1948 for just 12 districts but West UP with 30 districts even as 2024 is about to start is still not deemed fit by Centre for a Bench!
At first blush, one can make out most easily as to which State needs more High Court Benches and which part of the State needs more Benches yet most atrociously Centre despite knowing everything is just not prepared to take any concrete action in Uttar Pradesh due to which the huge pending cases are piling up so rapidly! Centre must definitely spare a food of thought for this also. Even the 230th Report of Law Commission of India more than 14 years back headed by former Supreme Court Judge – late Dr AR Lakshmanan had called for setting up of more High Court Benches in States but Centre has maintained a deafening silence on it which definitely cannot be ever justified under any circumstances! I am definitely most anguished beyond words to see that how all PM have acted like copycats of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in ensuring that not a single High Court Bench is set up at any place other than in Lucknow where Nehruji set up one on July 1, 1948 less than a year after independence and that’s all not a single more even though UP tops the State list in having maximum number of pending cases and here too it is West UP which accounts for more than half of the total pending cases of UP and still has none and the litigants are made to travel horrendously all the way whole night and half day till not even Lucknow but right uptill Allahabad and which is definitely just not done as it makes the worst mockery of Article 14 of the Constitution and Supreme Court too has been watching like a helpless, hapless and hopeless spectator!
What I really detest the most is Centre’s blind opposition to a High Court Bench in any nook and corner of Uttar Pradesh and as public posturing always lay the blame on the doors of either Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court or Chief Minister or Governor which is nothing but “white lie” as it is Centre and Centre alone which has got the mandate to govern India and not some Chief Justice or Chief Minister or Governor as wrongly projected which is a valiant diversionary tactic adopted by Centre for which it cannot be ever exonerated under any circumstances! All the arguments that are forwarded opposing a High Court Bench in West UP are entirely untenable and not fit to be entertained! It is most outrageous to see how Centre has repeatedly poured cold water on the most legitimate and compelling demand for a High Court Bench which is the crying need of the hour also! What disenchants and demoralizes me most to note is the cold shouldered raw treatment meted out by Centre to the most legitimate and compelling need for a Bench in West UP which has to be strongly and roundly condemned.
What really perplexes me most to see is: Inspite of so many agitations by lawyers, Centre has not deemed it appropriate to consider it seriously and pursue it to its logical conclusion! What has left me completely stung is that not one Prime Minister in last 77 years could ever summon the courage and conviction to catch the bull by the horns and order a High Court Bench to be created in West UP and so also in other needy regions of UP! How can it be ever lightly dismissed by anyone that West UP alone owes for nearly half of the total population of UP and so also contributes more than 75% of the State revenue and to top it all what cannot be glossed over is that it is West UP which owes for more than half of the total pending cases of UP as conceded even by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission and still no Bench created here and as 2024 General Elections are hardly about 6 months away we hear BJP eminent and senior leader and Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan while speaking in Jat Summit in Meerut in West UP recently advocated separate Statehood for West UP with High Court seat being at Meerut but this is just lip service which we have been hearing since last so many decades with even former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and now Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh openly batting for a High Court Bench in West UP and so also many other senior leaders and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had the guts to demand a High Court Bench for Meerut right inside Parliament in 1986 and in 1955, the then Congress Chief Minister Dr Sampoorananand also recommended a High Court Bench in Meerut and so also many others but still nothing materialized on ground!
It must be asked: Why can’t Centre give a mouth-shutting reply and so also action-shutting reply of how much it cares for the person standing on the last line of a row by most promptly approving more High Court Benches in most needy regions of UP like in West UP, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal? To top it all, we see that Centre is even allowing the judiciary i.e. Allahabad High Court to deny even e-filing facility which Centre had itself approved and which was to start from November 1, 2023 even though in many States like Orissa, Telangana and others it has been in operation since a pretty long time! It was by the notification issued on 18 October, 2023 that had permitted e-filing of cases from any district of UP from November 1, 2023! Plainly speaking, this is what pinches the lawyers of West UP most and Centre’s nonchalance in addressing it is quite ostensible!
How long would the interminable wait for a High Court Bench in West UP continue inordinately? The lawyers of West UP went for months on hunger strike in 1978 and so also on padyatras many times most famously in 1986 and so also for 6 months strike as in 2001 and so also in 2014-15 and many times even on Wednesday which was discontinued so that litigants don’t suffer endlessly! The short key point that I want to humbly make here on this issue is: For how long will Centre pretend to be totally blind to the ground reality?
When Centre can spend billions of rupees to reduce the time limit in travelling from Meerut to Delhi then why can’t it create a High Court Bench in any of the 22 districts of West UP so that the litigants who suffer the most endlessly by being made to travel whole night and half day all the way not even till Lucknow but right uptill Allahabad and after most tiring journey then rush to High Court to submit important details including photograph and then start searching for hotel which many times are not available or are available at exorbitant rates but Centre most shockingly has done just nothing to address it as Allahabad High Court has red-flagged the e-filing also which I find most incomprehensible! Centre must act now and provide most durable solution by approving High Court Bench not just in West UP but also in other needy regions of UP like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal! It definitely now brooks no more delay anymore!