It is a matter of deepest regret that lawyers of West UP have been agitating since last so many decades when I nearing 50 was not even born 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 22 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!
In the most blatant act of discrimination, partiality and cheating perpetrated openly upon by Centre most chillingly by approving one more High Court Bench for a peaceful State like Maharashtra at Aurangabad as recommended even though Maharashtra with much less pending cases 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 apart from six months strike in 2001 and 2014 and one month hunger strike in 1978 and many more such similar strikes 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 again boycotted work, protested peacefully demanding High Court Bench in different places as has been happening since last so many decades and reaffirmed its full solidarity to continue till the demand is finally met! On November 18, 2023, the lawyers of West UP again boycotted work and senior lawyers comprising of President and General Secretary of 22 districts of West UP and so also former President and General Secretary among others met in Moradabad to draw fresh strategy to renew the agitation for a High Court Bench in West UP and it was decided to constitute “Permanent Sangharsh Samiti” in every district of West UP which will work relentlessly only for furthering the cause of High Court Bench in West UP and next meet will be held in Bijnore on December 16 to prepare the blue print to carry out Padyatra to Delhi!
What sense does it make that West UP has been denied a Bench since last 77 years due to which litigants have to travel whole night and half day till Allahabad to seek justice which in itself is the biggest injustice and equipping only Eastern UP which already had High Court with Bench also created 75 years ago at Lucknow so near to Allahabad and then attached West UP not even with Lucknow which falls 230 km earlier but right uptill Allahabad most despotically? Why more than half of the pending cases are from West UP and still no Bench here? What rubbish!
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 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 22 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 States 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 just not fit to be entertained! It is definitely 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!
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