It is most shocking that the most senseless decision to create just one High Court Bench for the whole of Uttar Pradesh and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad High Court itself at the city famously called “Nawab City” and commonly called Lucknow and that too way back in 1948 on July 1, […]

It is most shocking that the most senseless decision to create just one High Court Bench for the whole of Uttar Pradesh and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad High Court itself at the city famously called “Nawab City” and commonly called Lucknow and that too way back in 1948 on July 1, 1948. It is because of this stupidity of the highest order that the people of hilly areas of undivided UP after tolerating for 53 years ultimately rebelled and then Centre happily gave High Court itself at Nainital and when Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge recommended 3 High Court Benches – one for West UP and two for hilly areas at Dehradun and Nainital in mid 1970s, not one was allowed to be created due to which people had to travel thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad which is 200 km further away from Lucknow where Bench is located to seek justice and Supreme Court with folded hands just kept watching everything like a hopeless, helpless and hapless spectator!

There is something quite feudalistic, hierarchical and divisive about Centre’s obsession with believing senselessly that only Eastern UP alone is best suited for both High Court and so also a single High Court Bench and no other place in entire UP is suitable enough to be given even a High Court Bench whether it is Western UP or Bundelkhand or Purvanchal or any other region except Eastern UP! Is this is what equality as envisaged in Article 14 of Constitution all about? This is exactly what I hate the most!

Our Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju is hundred percent right when he says that, “In the last eight and a half years of the Narendra Modi government, nothing has been done to undermine the authority of the judiciary and judges. But the judiciary should not get into the role of the executive. Who should run the country? Should the judiciary run the country or the elected government?” Absolutely right.

This alone explains why former CJI Ranjan Gogoi while listening to a PIL filed by a woman lawyer KR Chitra in 2018 on the dire necessity of setting up a High Court Bench in West UP while conceding that the point she raised of litigants suffering inexorably due to travelling whole night and half a day not even till Lucknow where Bench is located but more than 200 km away from even Lucknow right uptill Allahabad to seek justice made it absolutely clear that it was for Centre to decide on setting up of a High Court Bench in West UP while dismissing the PIL.

Why is it that Eastern UP where already Allahabad High Court was located even before independence and still Centre took less than a year in deciding that the Bench should be set up at Lucknow also in Eastern UP on July 1, 1948? Why no such promptness shown even after 75 years of independence in case of Western UP? Why even judiciary kept mum at this gross injustice?

No doubt, Kiren Rijiju is spot on when he expresses his utmost displeasure at the Supreme Court’s decision to keep the sedition law in abeyance, saying that despite the Centre’s submission of intending to bring changes passed the judicial order. Kiren Rijiju certainly cannot be faulted for very uprightly pointing out that, “We told the Supreme Court that the government is thinking about changing the provision of the sedition law. Despite that, the court struck down the provisions of the sedition law. I was very upset about it. That is when I said everyone has a Lakshaman Rekha (or limit) that they should not cross.” Absolutely right!

As for instance, the job of setting up of High Court Bench is not the job of the judiciary as was conceded even by ex CJI Ranjan Gogoi! It is the job of the Centre as pointed out by Gogoi which it brilliantly performed also in Lucknow in Eastern UP where it took just 11 months to create a Bench there in 1948 even though there was no need of it. But after that not a single Bench created anywhere in any needy region like West UP where lawyers have been agitating since many decades but to no avail!

Needless to say, the Apex Court has fully respected the “Lakshman Rekha” on this since last 75 years even though Centre has kept this issue pending on the backburner! It must be asked: Why Apex Court didn’t demonstrate the same respect in case of sedition also as it has done in case of High Court Benches knowing fully well that the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission recommended 3 Benches yet not one was created in UP even though Bench were c r e at e d i n o t h e r St at e s like Maharashtra which already had multiple High Court Benches? No one in his/her right senses would ever applaud creation of just one High Court Bench for such a large State like UP with maximum population, maximum pending cases and what not and still it has just one Bench and that too so close to Allahabad and nowhere else!

This is the absurd limit of stupidity of the highest order which cannot be allowed to be condoned by anyone under any circumstances! I h ave a lways s a i d t h i s earlier and I am again still saying this without making any bones: Centre’s role in denying West UP even a single Bench is most despicable and questionable! Judiciary too especially the Apex Court has definitely not covered itself with glory by doing nothing on it since last 75 years!

I concede that the Apex Court has a valid point when it says that, “Court cannot fold its hands and sit on demonetization.” This begs the all-important and inevitable question: Can Court afford to fold its hands and sit quietly for more than 75 long years as we have been seeing also on Centre’s most irrational and absurd decision to not create a single High Court Bench not just in West UP as recommended by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission but also in any other needy region like Bundelkhand or Purvanchal knowing fully well that even Yogi Adityanath who is UP CM had demanded Bench for Gorakhpur right inside Parliament in 1999 and in 2015 had even tabled a private members Bill on creation of Bench yet no Bench created? Questions abound in the social and mainstream media about Centre’s motive on this key issue and Apex Court’s deafening silence on it!

Hon’ble Justice BV Nagarathna of Apex Court is right when she says regarding demonetization that, “We are not going into the legality of the decision but the process of decision making.” But the moot question that arises here is: Why Supreme Court can’t similarly examine the process of decision making pertaining to just one High Court Bench in whole of UP and that too so close to Allahabad in Eastern UP alone to seek justice leaving the more than 10 crore people of West UP entirely in the lurch? Why Supreme Court never examines this even though lawyers of West UP have gone on strike for 6 months in 2001, one month hunger strike in 1978, one to two months in 2009, 2010 and 4 to 5 months in 2014-15 and every Saturday strike since May 1981 till December 2022 and many times even on Wednesdays which was discontinued so that litigants don’t suffer immensely? Why can’t Centre be more responsive towards the legitimate demand of lawyers of West UP for a High Court Bench? Even Madhya Pradesh has two High Court Benches at Gwalior and Indore? Maharashtra has three High Court Benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji and a fourth one was approved by former CM Uddhav Thackeray for just 6 districts at Kolhapur!

It cannot be denied that RBI is hundred percent right when it argues that note ban is an economic issue, hence, court should not intervene. Setting up of more High Court Bench in UP and West UP in particular and so also lawless Bihar is a judicial issue, hence, court has every right and every bounden duty also to intervene! Why Supreme Court never spoke up when the most irrational decision to create just a single High Court Bench was taken for Lucknow for undivided UP which is just 200 km away from Allahabad due to which people of hilly areas had to horrendously travel more than thousands of kilometers all the way not even till Lucknow which is 200 km earlier but most stupidly right up till Allahabad to seek justice thus making an open and complete mockery of the clichés like “justice at doorsteps” and “speedy justice” with Apex Court watching everything like a mute spectator who has no power to do anything but to watch helplessly? History will never judge Apex Court kindly for its Himalayan blunder of playing the role of mute spectator that it has played in this sordid episode which is still continuing even though Uttarakhand has been formed into a separate State giving them High Court itself and much needed respite after 53 years of independence but people of West UP who have to travel more than 750 km on an average are yet to get any respite eve after more than 75 years of independence!

Before parting, one feels constrained to ask: Why Apex Court never cared for all this will undoubtedly blemish its untarnished reputation of being always impartial in dispensing justice? It still has opportunity to wash off the stain. Let’s fervently hope that it will do something concrete in this regard!

I really from the bottom of my heart have just no words of admiration for the most laudable initiative of the UP government to build a memorial of Dr BR Ambedkar who is the key architect of the Constitution. We all know that Dr BR Ambedkar always stood for justice and what better way can be of honouring him than creating more High Court Benches at most needy places like that in West UP, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand and UP CM Yogi Adityanath has always been in the forefront of demanding High Court Bench for Gorakhpur right inside Parliament as mentioned earlier from which he has never backtracked for which one has to give due credit to him! It is high time to iron out the wrinkles that have entrenched themselves in our judicial system to purge and reinvigorate it for the best advantage of the people especially the poor, deprived and the marginalized for whom it is actually meant to be also by setting up more High Court Benches as recommended by the 230th report of the Law Commission of India!

Why can’t Centre order the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP as is being demanded also most relentlessly by lawyers and people alike? It can and it must as for the more than 10 crore people of West UP, there is still a glimmer of hope as PM Narendra Modi is in power till 2024 and he is known for being most concerned for poor and what better step can there be to rise to the high expectations of the people than this! Speaking for myself, I completely debunk the long held belief that UP can under no circumstances have more Bench than one and that too only in East UP!

What plays upon my mind always is: Why it is only Eastern UP that has both High Court and a single Bench and why no PM has dared to ever address this worst mockery and worst trampling of justice in the most populated state of India with maximum pending cases and here too West UP owes for more than half of the pending cases as was conceded even by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission? This perilous stalemate over a High Court Bench in West UP since last 75 years must definitely end now by Centre definitely granting it immediately to meet the needs, hopes and aspirations of the litigants of West UP! Even Rajnath Singh who is Union Defence Minister and former UP CM and so also Union Minister for State Gen VK Singh among many others in ruling dispensation have in principle always fully supported the demand for a High Court Bench in West UP!

The billion dollar question is: How can all this be just glossed over? Not deciding on Bench issue in West UP since last 75 years inspite of such a long agitation by the lawyers who long back formed Central Action Committee also in this regard to struggle relentlessly only reflects on abdication of responsibility of those in power towards the poor, deprived and marginalized! Most telling!

Yet let us still fervently hope that either Centre or the Apex Court will rise to the occasion and fulfill the legitimate expectations of the more than 10 crore people of West UP of 30 districts to have its own High Court Bench! When PM Narendra Modi can straightaway give statehood to Telangana which means High Court itself for just 3.5 crore people way back on June 2, 2014 then why can’t he even ten years later not approve even a Bench for the more than ten crore people of West UP? This is what he must definitely seriously introspect and decide at the earliest for which he is always known best!