Why Allahabad High Court Has Least Benches In India?

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It has to be stated with utmost dismay and dejection that Allahabad High Court which is one of the oldest high court in India which completed its 150 years in 2016 and is one of the biggest court in not just India but in whole of Asia has just one high court bench which is the least in India! What is even more depressing to note is that this single bench of high court is very close to Allahabad where the high court itself is located just about 200 km away at Lucknow! What is most depressing to note is that even though this single bench was created by our first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru way back in 1948 on July 1, just no attempt has been made by any PM even 70 years later in 2018 to create a high court bench anywhere else in any other part of UP!
                                      What makes matters even more worse is that the people of hilly areas of UP which now form a separate state called Uttarakhand were compelled to travel more than thousand kilometers all the way to Allahabad to attend court hearings and hire lawyers and spend money on other expenses like staying etc! From 1947 till 2000 they had to suffer interminably because Centre was just not bothered about them as their population was just about 88 lakh till 2000! As if still this was not enough, Centre blatantly and most brazenly decided to smirk at the landmark recommendations made by Justice Jaswant Singh who was the former Supreme Court Judge and former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court who headed the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by none other than Centre itself way back in late 1970s to create 2 high court benches for the hilly areas at Dehradun and Nainital and one bench for West UP at Agra! It is most dismaying that even the intellectual class, the eminent jurists of India and eminent lawyers of Supreme Court too remained by and large quite on this and there was hardly any public discussion on this!
                                         To protest this most step motherly treatment meted out to the hilly areas of UP who now form a separate state called Uttarakhad and West UP, the lawyers of nearly 40 districts decided to go on strike every Saturday since May 1981 and it is continuing till now in West UP as it even now forms part of UP in May 2018 even though in hilly areas it ceased after 2000 as it was created into a separate state! Centre can give high court if people wage agitation for a separate state but if people want to stay in UP only as we see till now in West UP, Centre strongly feels that the more than 9 crore people of West UP should tolerate everything quietly and keep going to Allahabad to attend court hearings many times even without reservations and bear all inconveniences as it is only Eastern UP which deserves both High Court at Allahabad and a single bench at Lucknow! Is this fair on part of Centre?    
                                       The larger point that I want to make here is this: Why is it that Allahabad High Court tops among all states when it comes to the number of pending cases which is more than 10 lakhs whereas most of other states have not more than one lakh cases and still Centre is busy creating more and more high court benches for them! Assam till a few years ago had 7 high court benches but after Manipur, Meghalaya andTripura were given separate high courts, it now stands reduced to 4! But Allahabad High Court has just one! Is this fair?
                                         As if this was not enough, Centre decided to openly mock at Allahabad High Court by not creating even one more bench for it even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended 3 benches for UP! But the worst which was yet to come was when Centre most shamelessly decided to create a high court bench for Maharashtra at Aurangabad as recommended which already had benches at Nagpur and Panaji, at Madurai in Tamil Nadu and at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! This under no circumstances can be ever justified!
                                             Not just this, Centre has always ensured that this high court has maximum vacancies of Judges which is highest in country with more than half of seats which stands at 160 keep lying vacant! Is this fair? Is Centre not aware that Allahabad High Court needs “special attention” and not “special neglect”?
                                         Is Centre not aware that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had categorically pointed out that West UP owes for about 57% of the total pending cases which is more than half of the total pending cases in UP still why its landmark recommendation to create a bench here to take care of nearly 40 districts at Agra with circuit benches at Nainital and Dehradun overlooked? Why Centre overlooked that the high court itself was initially at Agra from 1866 to 1869 before being shifted to Allahabad? Why did it not create a bench in Agra and cited baseless pretext which had just no legal justification whatsoever?
                          Why when Sampoornanand recommended a high court bench to be created at Meerut in 1955 after more than 100 elected representatives met him and convinced him of the dire need of the same did Nehru refuse? Why when a bench could be created at Lucknow in 1948 could a bench not be created at Meerut which is more than 700 km away in 1955? Why Centre said that the recommendation made by Law Commission in its fourth report in 1955 recommended against creating more benches and so West UP could not be given a bench conveniently overlooked everything when it came to other states and kept on creating benches there and also overlooked that the Law Commission in its 230threport recommended creation of more benches yet West UP and other parts of UP like Bundelkhand were kicked by not creating more benches for Allahabad high court?
                                      Why Centre felt very excited to create 2 more high court benches for Karnataka which already had a bench at Hubli for just 4 and 8 districts at Gulbarga and Dharwad respectively but for 26 districts of West UP not a single bench was approved even though the lawyers here keep going on strike as they did thrice like once in 2001 for 6 months from July to December and for 3 to 4 months as they did in 2014-15 and for one month as they did in 2010 and for many weeks as they keep doing every year apart from the strikes on Saturdays and many times even on Wednesdays? Why Centre disregarded the most commendable recommendation made by one of the most eminent jurist of India – Soli J Sorabjee who as Attorney General in 2001had categorically recommended that, “Centre is empowered to create a high court bench in West UP without any recommendation from the Chief Justice or Chief Minister or anyone else in this regard”? Why Centre even disregarded what former Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association BN Krishnamani said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in any of the districts in West UP will the people living there get real justice”?
                                            Why Centre approves one more bench for Mumbai high court at Kolhapur for just 6 districts which already had 3 benches at Panaji, Aurangabad and Nagpur just recently in 2018 itself but cites 100 reasons for not creating a single more bench for Allahabad High Court in any hook and corner of UP leave alone West UP? Why Yogi Adityanath as MP raised the demand for a high court bench in Gorakhpur which he has represented since last more than two decades in 1998 but has done nothing to create a bench here even after being in power for more than a year in UP even though he has ensured creation of an AIIMS there which is commendable? Why Centre from 1947 till 2018 has taken the stand that, “Ask anything for UP but not a high court bench as only Lucknow deserves it”? Nothing can be further from the truth!
                                        If Lucknow is capital then so are Bhopal which is capital of Madhya Pradesh, Dehradun which is capital of Uttarakhand, Bhubaneshwar which is capital of Odisha and Thiruvanathapuram which is capital of Kerala yet they have neither high court nor bench! Also, Lucknow’s area jurisdiction is just 62,00 square km and that of West UP is 98,933 square km! The number of districts which come under the jurisdiction of Lucknow bench is just 12 and that of West UP is 26! The population of districts under Lucknow jurisdiction stands nowhere as compared to West UP whose population at more than 9 crore is more than any other state except UP of which it is itself a part, Maharashtra and Bihar and here too areawise West UP has 98,933 square km and that of Bihar is just 94,000 square km!   
                                          It has been more than one year since Yogi Adityanath came to power and 4 years since NDA came to power in Centre with firm assurance by none other than the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that a high court bench would be created in West UP if it came to power in Centre and State of UP but till now even after coming to power in both Centre and UP we don’t see BJP setting up a Bench anywhere not just in West UP but anywhere in UP! This is what is most hurting! Why is West UP being denied unfairly its due?
                                   Why catchy slogans like “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice” not implemented for West UP and other remote areas of UP by creating more benches here? Why Mayawati wanted high court itself for West UP by recommending to Centre that it be made a separate state way back in 1995 but Centre is not ready to concede even a bench for West UP?  Why BJP ruling now at Centre and in UP seems determined to not allow just like Congress the creation of even a single high court bench in UP other than the one that already exists at Lucknow knowing fully well that UP has maximum population more than 22 crore as CM Yogi keeps proudly declaring every now and then, maximum pending cases in High Courts more than 10 lakhs, maximum pending cases in lower courts more than 65 lakhs, maximum PM, maximum MPs, maximum MLAs both in Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad, maximum Mayors, maximum districts, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum cities, maximum crime and here too West UP alone owes for more than 52% of pending cases,  maximum lawlessness due to which even UN secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed UP as the “rape and crime capital of India”, maximum riots as we saw in Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Agra, Meerut all in West UP, maximum Judges, maximum courts and what not still has just one High Court Bench created by our first PM Jawaharlal Nehru way back in 1948 at Lucknow and not anywhere else even 70 years later? Most hurting!
                             This despite the fact that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had thundered in Parliament way back in 1986 as Opposition Leader demanding the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP and Yogi Adityanath who is now UP CM also himself thundered while demanding for a High Court Bench at Gorakhpur way back in 1998 right inside Parliament but 20 years later we don’t see any High Court Bench anywhere being created other than the one which Nehru created 70 years ago in 1948 at Lucknow! One can understand that Vajpayee didn’t enjoy majority but Modi has it but we see no action forthcoming on this so far even though he is taking other steps for UP like pompously inaugurating the 14 lane highway connecting Delhi with Meerut and other districts of West UP which will reduce the time limit from Meerut to Delhi from 2 hours to just 45 minutes which is commendable but what about high court bench in West UP which is affecting the litigants of 26 districts most adversely! When will action be taken on this score?
                                   It is not for nothing that Union Minister Satyapal Singh demanded in Parliament the creation of 5 high court benches at Meerut, Agra, Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Varanasi but the real tragedy is that his own PM is not listening to him and not creating even one more bench anywhere else in UP other than the one which already exists at Lucknow! Similarly many other BJP MPs like former Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan, Union Minister Gen VK Singh, Mahesh Sharma and other MPs like Rajinder Agarwal keep demanding benches but to no avail!
                          As per the Section 51 of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the Centre can create a high court bench in any of these 3 states – UP, Bihar and J&K directly by bringing it up in Parliament. Centre does not need any recommendation from State Government or the Chief Justice as has been very wrongly propagated for many decades! What a national disgrace that these very 3 states – Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar keep on grabbing the national news headlines for all the wrong reasons as crime incidents keep multiplying very rapidly and what is worst is Centre’s stupid and crazy determination to not allow a single more bench in all these 3 states! Why eminent jurists and eminent lawyers of Apex Court keep quiet on this barring exceptions like Soli J Sorabjee?
                                          Bihar is famous as another most lawless state yet Centre has not created even a single high court bench here ever since Ranchi bench separated after Jharkhand became a state in 2000 and it became a high court and same is the case with UP and Jammu and Kashmir! It is incomprehensible why Centre can approve 3 or 4 or 5 benches for peaceful states like Maharashtra, Karnataka among others but not more than one for UP which has maximum pending cases which is more than 10 states put together! Allahabad High Court must be given its due honour and it must have maximum high court benches and not minimum!
                                          Disband all high court benches in India if Allahabad High Court cannot be given more benches, West UP cannot be given a bench nor can Bundelkhand or Gorakhpur (which is CM Yogi’s constituency and where BJP just recently lost) for people living so far away who face maximum sufferings because of this but which no PM has ever dared to address for reasons never disclosed! This all-important issue directly affecting billions of litigants coming from all sections of society is lying largely unattended and untreated since many decades!         
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.   
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