To begin with, 21 December is a date which I can never forget in my life because it was on this black day in 2014 that Dr OP Sharma who is the former President of Meerut Bar and who is held in highest esteem here lost his only son - Tarun Sharma who also was a budding advocate to bullets and that too right in front of his house! He was about to be engaged just after about two to three months! He had pursued his MBA from New Zealand and then chose to follow the worthy footsteps of his father by wearing black coat but his live was abruptly cut short by bullets! He had everything in him to become like his illustrious father an eminent lawyer and even a Judge of High Court and Supreme Court but alas that was not to happen as bullets snatched the promising life of an intelligent young lawyer! He too as long as he was alive vociferously and actively supported the legitimate agitation for a high court bench in West UP and always lead from the front in demanding it along with his father! Even a senior lawyer of Meerut Bar - KP Singh too was shot dead by criminals with impunity!
Just recently, a 100 year old woman was raped in Meerut and she died within no time! In Hapur a small girl aged 6 or 7 years gangraped then people protested. This keeps happeing every now and then! No one is safe in West UP and criminals know that because of huge pending cases it will take decades before the case is finally decided and by the time they are decided they would die a natural death! Gang rape on national highway as happened at Bulandshahr is nothing new!
Chief Justice of UP - Dilip Babasaheb rightly pointed out that in Maharashtra woman are so safe that they can go anywhere even in the night but in UP no one is safe even with their family and even on the national highways! Yet see the irony that Maharashtra has 3 high court benches and UP only one and West UP where maximum crime incidents occur has none as both a single bench at Lucknow and high court at Allahabad are in Eastern UP! How can this be ever justified by anyone? Criminals are ruling the roost and Centre yet firmly reiterates that no bench for West UP! Who is gaining most by Centre's inaction in setting up a bench here? Criminals and only criminals!
The Union Government has set aside Rs 3,320 crore for building 3143 court halls and 1682 residences for Judges but what about a high court bench in West UP? Why can't a few crore rupees be spared for setting up a bench anywhere in West UP? Why even 1 district is not considered fit to be granted a bench in whole of West UP?
It is so shocking that Jawaharlal Nehru had the guts to set up a single high court bench for UP so close to Allahabad at Lucknow way back on July 1, 1948 but 70 years down the lane, no PM has shown the guts to create even a single high court bench anywhere else in West UP or in Bundelkhand or in Gorakhpur from where present CM Yogi Adityanath himself hails and who has been getting elected as MP since 1998 and had even raised the demand for a high court bench there inside Parliament but now even after coming close to completing one year in office, it seems he has chosen to just forget everything! Satyapal Singh who is former Mumbai Police Commissioner and represents BJP as MP from Baghpat and recently was sworn in as Union Minister had demanded right inside Parliament the setting up of 5 high court benches for UP at Meerut, Agra, Gorakhpur, Jhansi and Varanasi but what a pity that Centre is not ready to set up even a single bench anywhere in UP even as PM Narendra Modi is all set to complete 4 years in power after few months! This is the real tragedy!
Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi to look into where all benches should be set up and headed by former Supreme Court Judge Jaswant Singh had categorically recommended that high court benches must be set up at Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal which was promptly approved but most shockingly his landmark recommendation to set up 3 high court benches at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun were summarily rejected and not one bench was approved and people of West UP and hilly areas which now forms separate state - Uttarakhand were compelled to travel thousands and thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad! How can this be ever justified by anyone?
Not stopping here, the lawyers of West UP unitedly decided to go on strike every Saturday ever since May 1981 demanding the creation of a high court bench and 36 years down the lane they are still striking just like they will strike on December 23 but Centre is determined not to create even a single bench here! Maximum crime, maximum riots, maximum rapes, maximum gangrapes and all other types of crimes take place in West UP but still Centre is not prepared to set up even a single bench here! Can there be anything more shocking than this?
In 2009, the 230th report of Law Commission in a landmark recommendation recommended setting up of more high court benches in India! But again how tragic and shocking that for more than 9 crore people of West UP whose population is more than all other states except Bihar, Maharashtra and UP of which it is itself a part has still no bench been approved! Rather, most bizarrely, the previous UPA regime kept assuring the senior lawyers of West UP that their legitimate demand for a high court bench would be fulfilled soon but what we saw on ground was that 2 more benches were created for peaceful state like Karnataka for just 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga respectively but not a single bench neither for West UP nor for whole of UP nor for any other lawless state like Bihar where there is not even a single bench of high court! How can this be ever justified?
Strangely BJP leaders kept assuring people of West UP that if elected to power in Centre and UP they would soon create a bench but till now we see nothing on ground even though it is BJP which is ruling both in Centre and UP! They conveniently ignore that their own tallest leader and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had himself raised the legitimate demand for a bench of high court in West UP right inside Parliament in 1986 but nearly 32 years down the lane, we see no action here! Is this fair?
Why former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon slams UP as the 'rape and crime capital of India' but still Centre is not ready to set up a single more bench for Allahabad High Court which is one of ther oldest high court in India completing 150 years in 2016 and one of the biggest court in whole of Asia yet just a single bench? Why the population of UP is more than Pakistan and many other countries and highest in India, has maximum pending cases more than 10 lakh and here too more than half of pending cases are from West UP still no bench here and least benches here just one? Why when peaceful states like Maharashtra and Karnataka can have 3 high court benches then why UP has just one bench?
Why no party in power in Centre is ready to correct this 'historical blunder' at any cost? Why all MPs from 26 districts of West UP demand high court bench but Centre is not prepared to concede? Why even Supreme Court has never intervened on this because this is a very serious issue and the more than 9 crore people of West UP are being made to suffer endlessly for only being born here even though on many trivial issues it has intervened thus inviting charges of 'judicial activism' and 'judicial overstepping' by the politicians?
Why can't the people of West UP also enjoy 'justice at doorsteps', 'cheap and affordable justice' and why is inequality heaped on them since 1947 has not been corrected till now? Why maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum Judges, maximum pending cases, maximum crime, maximum elected representatives and maximum PM all from UP including Modi still least benches here and none in West UP? Why lawyers of West UP go on strike for 6 months from July to December in 2001, 3 to 4 months in 2014-15 and many times strikes for a months or for weeks together still no high court bench created here? Why inspite of so many UP CM recommending creation of a bench in West UP from 1955 onwards has Centre overlooked everything?
Why only lip service of 'speedy justice', 'justice to be made accessible to the poor' and 'justice at doorsteps' if no step is taken to create a bench in West UP where incidents of crime are touching dizzying heights? Why Centre fails to appreciate that lawyers of West UP striking since such a long time for 36 long years every Saturday and regularly holding meetings after meetings to chalk out new strategy to push forward the surge of creating a bench can be resolved only by creating a bench here in any of the 26 districts wherever Centre wishes to do so? Is it such a big deal?
1. Should it not be done immediately? It is the litigants who will stand to gain and here too it is the 'poorest of poor' who will benefit most if a bench is created here and all strikes every Saturday and sometimes even on Wednesday and sometimes for 6 months in a row will become a matter of past! Does Centre not wishes this happens?
2. Why then it refuses to take any action on this score? Why is Centre not taking some action to ensure that this more than 36 year old strike by lawyers of West UP is brought to an end by mutual deliberations, discussions and decisions? Why is decision on this score being postponed inordinately when a bench was promptly created at Lucknow in 1948, in Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts and in many other places even though the law and order situation is worse in West UP as compared to any other place for which benches were approved? Why can't Centre stop coughing preposterous excuses and create a bench in West UP by which more than 9 crore people will gain in equal measure irrespective of their religion, caste, creed or sex?
Why inspite of repeated assurances by successive governments in Centre was nothing done to fulfil it? With what face is Centre denying a bench even now when Amit Shah who is BJP national President and Rajnath Singh who is Union Home Minister had repeatedly assured that a bench would be created once NDA comes to power in Centre and in UP? Why Centre feels that even if lawyers of West UP strike for 100 more years nothing will change?
It is not lawyers but people of West UP who will stand to gain the most if a high court bench is created here as they will not be compelled to travel whole night many times without reservations. Yet no one in the corridors of power in Centre is paying scant attention to it! Is this fair?
Why a high court bench at Port Blair for just 3 lakh people, a high court for just 6 lakh people of Sikkim with about just 100 cases pending, for just few lakhs of people of people in Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura as also in many other smaller states? Why a high court now for Uttarakhand since 2000 for just 88 lakh people but not even a bench for more than 9 crore people of West UP? Why such a raw and third rated treatment for them?
Recently, President, PM and Chief Justice of India among others wished the nation on 'Constitution Day' and everyone reiterated the dire need to make justice accessible to poor people! But I fail to understand why since last 70 years a single bench has been denied to West UP thus compelling people to travel without any reason so far to Allahabad to get justice? Shocking!