LAWYERS OF WEST UP COMPELLED TO STRIKE FOR HC BENCH

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test:

Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?

Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

It is not just for enjoying life or going for some holiday trip that lawyers of West UP repeatedly keep going on strike since last many decades. It should not be glossed over that when lawyers go on strike, it is their livelihood itself that gets affected but all the successive Central Governments have been totally impervious to their legitimate demands by which it is the “poorest of poor”, women, people of lower class who will benefit most as they will then not be required to travel all the way more than 700 km on an average of the 26 districts of West UP with population of more than 9 crore all the way to Allahabad to get justice which means that whole night and half day is wasted just on journey itself. How can lawyers who fight for the litigants cause remain nonchalant to their endless woes which the litigants have to face to travel such a long way and then spend so much of amount in staying there and hiring lawyer and what not!

We all witnessed how when the representatives of all the districts of West UP assembled at Meerut to chalk out their future plan for giving momentum to the agitation for a demand for High Court Bench in West UP under the Chairmanship of the Central Action Committee constituted for this purpose – Mahavir Singh Tyagi who is the current Chairman and also the President of the Meerut Bar Association there was tremendous anger among the lawyers that Centre was not taking a decision on this key issue since last many decades. The lawyers of West UP have been going on strike every Saturday since May 1981 and since last more than four decades have been continuously doing so relentlessly and now it has been decided that the lawyers of West UP will also go on strike on every second and fourth Wednesday of every month and apart from this will also strike on the 29 September, 30 September, 1 October and so also 2 October, 2021 and will now further intensify their age old agitation! It is most baffling as to why can’t Centre create more High Court Benches in UP which has maximum pending cases in India – more than 10 lakh cases in High Court and are on verge of touching one crore cases in lower courts!

While keeping what Gandhiji had said in mind, late Justice Dr AR Lakshmanan who was the Chairman of 18th Law Commission of India while submitting the 230th report titled “Reforms In The Judiciary – Some Suggestions” had very strongly recommended creation of more High Court Benches in different states which he submitted on August 5, 2009 but even after more than 12 years only one state gained from it and that is Karnataka itself where for just 4 and 8 districts two more High Court Benches were created at Dharwad and Gulbarga and not anywhere else till now even though it is UP that tops the maximum pending cases among all the states and West UP alone has more cases pending than that of whole of Karnataka and population wise also West UP at 9 crore stands way above Karnatka which has just 6 crore population yet has High Court also and 3 Benches also but what an unbeatable irony that for West UP Centre is not ready to concede even a single Bench or even a Circuit Bench! Most disgraceful!

Can anyone deny that even the 18th Law Commission in its 230th report candidly noted: “In almost every High Court, there is huge pendency of cases and the present strength of the judges can hardly be said to be sufficient to cope with the alarming situation. It is also necessary that the work of the High Courts is decentralized, that is, more Benches are established in all States. If there is manifold increase in the strength of the judges and the staff, all cannot be housed in one campus. Therefore, the establishment of new Benches is necessary. It is also in the interest of the litigants. The Benches should be so established that a litigant is not required to travel long. It is true that the new establishments will require money, but it is necessary as a development measure, particularly, when efforts are being made for all-round development of the country. Therefore, the money should not be a problem. We have to watch and protect the interest of the litigants. We must always keep in mind that the existence of judges and advocates is because of the litigants and they are there to serve their cause only. Sometimes, some advocates object to creation of new Benches and selection of new sites for construction of new buildings. But they raise objections in their personal, limited interest. Creation of new Benches is certainly beneficial for the litigants and the lawyers and a beginning has to be made somewhere. A speedy trial is not only required to give quick justice but it is also an integral part of the fundamental right of life, personal liberty, as envisaged in article 21 of the Constitution. Article 39A of the Constitution provides for equal justice and free legal aid. The said article obligates the State to promote justice on a basis of equal opportunity and, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities?”

Can anyone deny what Justice Krishna Iyer said : “The way to eliminate this ghastly syndrome of judicial arrears is not more state force but making the system of justice, justices and justicing truly accessible to the have-nots by means of radical judicial reform that is decentralised and democratic. If this does not become possible, the suffering people may leave the courts and take to the streets.” Does this not perfectly apply to UP where more than 1 crore cases are pending that is nearly half the cases pending all over India and here also West UP alone accounts for more than 50% cases? Still should a Bench not be created in West UP? You tell me. Even in other big States like Rajasthan, Orissa and many others, more high court benches should be created so that the huge backlog of pending cases comes crumbling down and the entire criminal justice system stand to gain in the whole process and undertrials gain quicker access to justice.

According to a statement by learned Andhra Pradesh High Court Judge Justice VV Rao in March 2010, “The Indian judiciary would take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in various courts including High Courts in the country’’ is undeniable. That any attempt to speed up the disbursal of justice could go a long way in addressing the problem and what better than the setting up of more High Court benches and to start with which state is better than UP which is one of the biggest state in India, has maximum pending cases among all the states accounting for nearly half of the total pending cases and here too it is West UP which accounts for most of the cases among the pending cases in UP is undeniable but there is still only one Lucknow bench is quite strange! That setting up of more High Court benches will help the system to come out of its present inertia and address the endless woes of the poorest of the poor who suffer the most in the entire process of delivery of justice for no fault of theirs is undeniable but still there is no sign shown by government to create benches in needy places like West UP is quite strange!

What can be a bigger injustice for the common man of West UP than the harsh and lamentable fact that the High Courts of 8 states including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and above all even Lahore High Court are nearer to West UP in comparison to Allahabad High Court! Who suffers as a result? It is the common man who is the worst affected who has to spend one full night and half day on journey alone to travel all the way to Allahabad!

It must be asked: Why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 24 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out every now and then, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies, maximum tehsils – 350, maximum MPs – 80, maximum MLAs – 404, maximum PM including Narendra Modi, maximum pending cases – more than 10 lakh and here too West UP accounts for more than half of pending cases as noted by Justice Jaswant Commission about 57%, maximum Judges which earlier was 160 and increased to 200 in high court, maximum vacancies of Judges – 75 in high court, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh as opposed to other states who have not more than few thousands at the most, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, custodial tortures, maximum dowry cases, maximum rape and gang rape cases, maximum acid throwing cases, maximum bride burning cases, maximum cases of human rights violations, maximum undertrials, maximum cases of crime, loot, arson and riots and here too West UP tops with Saharanpur riots, Meerut riots, Muzaffarnagar riots tarnishing our international reputation to the extent that former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon termed UP as “crime and rape capital” of India and what not yet Centre is not prepared to create even a single bench for not just West UP but entire UP? Why when UP sends maximum MPs to Lok Sabha – 80, maximum MPs to Rajya Sabha – 30, maximum MLAs to State Assembly – 404 MLAs and maximum members to State Legislative Council – 100 MLAs and yet has least benches – only one and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow?

It is so shocking and disgusting to see that West UP is fast becoming the epicenter of all kinds of crimes, rapes, gangrapes, brutal murders, mass murders, dacoity, robbery and what not still no High Court Bench being created! Even the former Chairman of Bar Council of UP – Darvesh Yadav who was the first woman to assume the high office at young age of just 38 years was shot dead in the court premises itself soon after being elected in Agra in West UP! What is even more shocking to see is that all political parties barring Samajwadi Party have openly espoused the creation of a high court bench in West UP but still even after seventy four years of independence we see no sign of it happening anytime soon! What is most shocking is that inspite of West UP accounting for more than half of the crime cases all over UP, not a single high court bench has been created here since 1947 till now in 2021 even though a high court bench was created at Lucknow which is just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad way back on July 1, 1948!

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