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Why SC Silent On Worst Discrimination In Judiciary?

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am neither a member nor supporter of BJP or any other political party nor a member of any of BJP’s affiliated organizations like the RSS or VHP or any other organization. I stay miles and miles away from politics of any kind. It just doesn’t suit me and I very strongly feel that I can never be a good politician as it is just not my cup of tea!


Having said this, let me now come straight to the key point. The Chief Justice of India – Sharad Arvind Bobde who is a product not of any High Court but of a High Court Bench at Nagpur in Maharashtra which has the unique distinction of having the maximum Benches of High Court in India at four along with Assam and who while hearing the petition on farm bill laws minced no words to tell the Attorney General KK Venugopal that, “We are extremely disappointed at the way government is handling all this (farmer’s protests). We don’t know what consultative process you followed before the laws. Many states are up in rebellion.” Without taking any sides and without going into the merit of the farm laws, we humbly submit to what the CJI says but it must be asked: Why has no CJI ever taken any note of the worst discrimination happening right under the nose of judiciary till now?

Why every CJI from 1947 till 2000 very strongly believed that there was nothing wrong in the people of hilly areas (erstwhile part of UP) from now Uttarakhand travelling thousands of kilometers all the way to Allahabad to get justice and it was in the “supreme interest of people” that the best decision to create a single Bench of High Court was taken by the then PM late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Lucknow which is just about 200 km away from Allahabad where High Court itself is located and even though was nearer from Lucknow but again to protect the interest of the people of hilly areas who face such a tough life would be served better if the litigants from there would be required to travel all the way to Allahabad? Can on earth there be anything more ridiculous decision than this?

Anyway, as time progressed, the people of hilly areas and those from West UP unitedly started agitating for more separate High Court Benches as even from 26 districts of West UP, Allahabad is more than 700 km away on an average and even Lucknow is just about 500 km away yet they too were attached with Allahabad in “supreme interest of justice”! Can on earth there be anything more ridiculous decision than this? Let us think?

Yes, there is one more decision which is even more ridiculous and senseless than what is mentioned above! The daughter of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi who then was PM initially took the “extremely brilliant, blunt and bold decision” to set up a high powered Committee more High Court Benches headed by a former Supreme Court Judge – Justice Jaswant Singh to examine this most burning issue in detail and suggest where all Benches are needed in India in mid seventies and he brilliantly, boldly and bluntly recommended that 3 more High Court Benches should be created in Uttar Pradesh at Agra, Dehradun and Nainital and one in Maharashtra at Aurangabad, one at Jalpaiguri in Tamil Nadu and one at Madurai in Tamil Nadu! Just think what happened next?

No prizes for guessing the answer as we all know now that Centre most shamelessly, most senselessly and most stupidly decided not to create even a single High Court Bench anywhere in any hook and corner of UP but decided to create a Bench for Aurangabad in Maharashtra which already had Benches at Panaji, Nagpur and so also at other places as was recommended for other States! As if this was not enough, we saw once again one more High Court Bench was created at Kolhapur in 2018 due to which the lawyers of West UP even went on token strike in protest as it was felt strongly that this is the “worst discrimination” that has ever happened with them as the more than 9 crore people of West UP have to travel more than 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad to get justice! Is Maharashtra “some special state” from where the incumbent CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde hails that it has been given High Court Benches time and again but UP has been left in the cold inspite of being the strongest contender as can be glimpsed from the “landmark, learned and laudable recommendations of Justice Jaswant Singh Commission? 

No wonder that Maharashtra tops in the latest justice index ranking among States and UP figures at bottom with maximum pending cases which is more than ten states put together! It is this step-motherly and most disgraceful treatment accorded by Centre to UP which is most hurting and is biggest violation of Article 14 which talks about right to equality. It is because of this stupidity that the people of 26 districts of West UP are compelled to travel more than 700 km all the way to Allahabad to get justice and attend court hearings many times without reservation whole night to reach Allahabad which is even far away from Lucknow which is still just about 500 km away from West UP!

Bluntly put: Is this is what Article 14 which talks about right to equality stands for? What sort of equality is this? Is Centre not making an open mockery of Article 14 of Indian Constitution? Why is it going unnoticed since such a long time? Why even Supreme Court has never intervened on it? Why Supreme Court feels that the people of West UP, Bundelkhand and other needy areas should only hope that Centre does something which is just not ready to budge! Why Supreme Court itself is not ready to do anything on this? Most despicable!

It must also be asked: Are the people of West UP not entitled to get “speedy justice”, “justice at doorsteps” and “cheap justice” just like the people of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam etc? Why is it that the high court and benches of 8 states are closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad? Why even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is closer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court? Still should a high court bench not be created here?

Needless to say, Centre must clarify its stand and not maintain a conspicuous and deafening silence on it! Former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee had clearly said in 2001 while he was Attorney General that, “Centre is fully empowered to create a bench in any of the districts in West UP without any recommendation from the Chief Justice or anyone else in this regard.” Former Supreme Court Bar Association Chairman Krishnamani had also said that, “Only by the creation of a high court bench in West UP will the people living here get real justice.”CJI Ranjan Gogoi while disposing of a petition on this filed by a lady advocate KL Chitra in 2018 had appreciated the dire need for a bench in West UP but also had said that it is for Centre to decide on it!

One hopes fervently that CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde will do something concrete on it before retiring in April 2021! He himself being a “bright gem” of a high court bench should certainly go into it deep and set up benches not just in West UP but also in other needy places in different states as was rightly recommended by 230th report of Law Commission of India also so that more talent comes to the horizon from the biggest populated state of India and we see that the “poorest of poor” people get “justice at doorsteps” and they are not compelled to travel a long way to get justice as it is they who have to spend more and suffer innumerable hassles! He must act as Centre has failed to act in last more than 74 years especially in case of UP and Bihar which inspite of being lawless states have just one bench and no bench respectively!

It is most shocking that peaceful states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Madhya Pradesh among others have more high court benches but the most lawless states like UP have either just one or no bench at all as we see in Bihar! This what I find most disturbing and also most atrocious! This must be set right at the earliest!

Let’s hope fervently that CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde before retiring will act courageously on this score and do what none of his predecessors has ever dared to do and tended to play safe by always leaving the ball in Centre’s court which in turn has done just nothing at all even though the incumbent Law Minister of India Ravi Shankar Prasad is from Bihar and the PM Narendra Modi himself is from UP representing Varanasi! But so far he is not at all agitated on this! Is he not aware of the “law and order” situation in UP and Bihar? 

It would be worth recalling that the former Chief Justice of UP – Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale who himself hails from Maharashtra while in office had candidly and courageously lambasted that “women in Maharashtra are safe even at night and can go anywhere alone” and this even I had seen myself while doing LLB from Symbiosis Law College in Pune but in UP he said that “women are not safe even with their family and that too in broad daylight on national highway while hearing a case on woman being beaten and molested and gang-raped and what not in Bulandshahr which is again in West UP”! Still Centre is not ready to create a bench!

As if this is not enough, the lawyers of West UP have been on strike for nearly 40 years every Saturday from May 1981 till now! Not just this, the lawyers of West UP have even gone on 6 months strike as we saw in 2001 and 3 to 4 months strike as happened in 2014-15 and many times on Wednesday and Saturday and many times for weeks! Why Centre is so adamant? Even Kapil Sibal as Union Law Minister had recommended High Court Bench at Meerut as was disclosed by former UPA Union Minister RPN Singh just like Sampoornanand who was the then UP CM had recommended in 1955 in Meerut apart from many others and former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Opposition leader had raised it in Parliament in 1986 still we see no bench anywhere not just in Meerut or in West UP or in Bundelkhand but in any hook and corner of UP except the one at Lucknow created in 1948!

No doubt, the clogged arteries of our legal system can only be declogged by creating more high court benches in big states as recommended by 230th report of Law Commission of India! It may well be argued that it is well nigh impossible to implement “justice at doorsteps” and “speedy justice” and “justice for all” as enshrined in various Articles in our Constitution without creating more high court benches in big states like UP! Centre must pay heed to what Dr BR Ambedkar had said that, “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.”

“Let justice be done though heaven falls” goes a well known adage and it deserves to be implemented in UP by creating more benches so that the more than 9 crore people of West UP are not compelled to travel all the way to Allahabad to get justice! Centre must honestly introspect and ask itself: Why a state like UP which tops the state list of maximum pending cases has just one bench and that too so near to Allahabad and nowhere else due to which people of West UP of 26 districts are compelled to travel whole night time and again to attend court hearings and same holds true for other far away places like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal? Why another lawless state like Bihar has not even a single high court bench? This alone explains why even filmmakers crack mocking songs like “Mein Aayi hun UP, Bihar lootene” and never hear anyone saying that, “Mein Aayi hun Maharashtra, Karnataka or Assam lootene”! High time that Centre acts decisively in this regard instead of passing the buck to the Chief Minister or Chief Justice or Full Bench of Allahabad High Court as we have seen in past because it is the litigants of more than 26 districts of West UP who will benefit and so will the people of other far away places of UP and Bihar! This utter neglect of West UP in particular and UP in general and so also Bihar must be given a full stop now!

But Centre it seems is determined to do just nothing on this score. What is worst is that even the incumbent CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde seems not keen as he has not taken any initiative on this score! Still it is always better to hope than to despair! It is most shocking to see that just recently on 31 December 2020, a two Judge Bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey in Abdul Qayoom Chalkoo v. Union Territory of JK & Ors in [LPA No. 123/2020 CM No. 4168/2020] while underlining the difficulties faced by the litigants of the Kashmir region in pursuing their cases before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jammu Bench hoped that difficulties in the process of establishment of the Bench of the CAT at Srinagar are removed “as expeditiously as possible”. What is the distance between Jammu and Srinagar? It is just 266 km by road and 151 km by flight!

Just imagine this that the people of 26 districts of West UP have to travel more than 700 km on an average all the way to Allahabad to attend hearings at high Court as there is no High Court Bench in any of the 26 districts of West UP but still no one feels sorry for them just like we saw in the above case! Why no Judges of Allahabad High Court have ever similarly as we see above in case of Jammu and Kashmir ever ordered the creation of benches in West UP? Why even Supreme Court Judges said nothing on it? Why even the incumbent CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde who is a brilliant gem of a High Court Bench of Nagpur again in Maharashtra keeps a conspicuous silence on it? He can certainly take suo motu cognizance of it but will he? That only he himself can answer or will answer before he retires in April this year!

It is most shocking that UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 23 crore, maximum districts - 75, maximum constituencies - 80, maximum MPs – 80, maximum MLAs in Vidhan Sabha - 404, maximum MLAs in State Legislative Council at 100, maximum PM including Narendra Modi who represents Varanasi as an MP, 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 both in High Court – 160 and also in lower courts, maximum vacancies of Judges about 60, maximum members in UP Bar Council more than 1 lakh and which is also the largest Bar Council in the world yet the former Chairman of UP Bar Council – Darvesh Yadav who was the first woman to get appointed to this post was murdered cold blooded right in court premises in Agra which is again in West UP on June 12, 2019 by pumping bullets on her head and stomach, maximum poverty, maximum villages more than one lakh the exact number being 107040, maximum gram panchayats at 74626, maximum fake encounters killings, maximum custody killings, maximum dowry cases, maximum bride burning cases, maximum cases of human rights violations, maximum robberies, maximum dacoities, 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 till now end of 2020 from 1948 when a bench was created in Lucknow which is so close to Allahabad is not prepared to create even a single bench for not just West UP but for the entire UP? Area of West UP is 98,933 square km and accounts for 33.61 percent of total area of UP and has 26 districts yet no bench but Lucknow with just 62,363 square km and 8 districts has a bench! 

Most baffling that why even BJP is emulating Congress on this key issue since last 6 years now and 6 years earlier in former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term as PM even though he had himself raised the demand for a high court bench very strongly in Parliament in 1986? If Lucknow is capital then so is Bhopal of Madhya Pradesh but it has high court at Jabalpur and two benches at Gwalior and Indore, Trivandrum of Kerala but High Court is in Ernakulam, Bhubaneshwar of Odisha but High Court is in Cuttack, Raipur of Chhattisgarh but High Court is in Bilaspur, Dehradun of Uttarakhand but High Court is in Nainital, Dispur of Assam but High Court is in Gauhati etc still why they have neither high court nor bench? 

How long will Centre ignore that only Karnataka and Maharashtra have gained from the recommendations of 230th Law Commission recommendations when 2 more Benches were created at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts even though the pending cases of Karnataka are just less than 2 lakh and that of UP are more than 10 lkahs and that of West UP alone are more than 5 lakhs as Justice Jaswant Commission testified that West UP accounts for 57% of the total pending cases of UP still West UP most astoundingly has no Bench and UP has just one Bench? How long will Centre ignore that Karnataka has just 6 crore population and still it has High Court at Bangalore and 3 High Court Benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga but West UP has population of more than 9 crores still it has not even a single Bench leave alone having High Court as was recommended by former UP CM Mayawati by making it a separate state? How long will Centre ignore that the High Courts and Benches of 8 states are nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad High Court and even Lahore High Court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP than Allahabad? How long will Centre ignore that Allahabad High Court is the biggest Court in whole of Asia with maximum Judges at 160 and also among the lodest High Courts which completed its 150 years on March 17, 2016 yet has just one bench only? 

Truth be told, Rajnath Singh who is Union Defence Minister and also former CM of UP while addressing a public gathering in Patiyali constituency of Kasarganj district is on record stating that in February 2017 that UP reported 7673 riots, 4660 murder, 4096 robberies and 260 dacoities in just one year alone and has pledged his unstinted support for a high court bench in West UP still why not a single created till now?

It is most shameful and most disgraceful that Allahabad High Court has the dubious distinction of accounting for 14,207, or 98% of a total of 14,484 appeals that are pending adjudication for more than 30 years as was noted by a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat and yet no Prime Minister starting from Jawaharlal Nehru to present Narendra Modi has ever dared to create one more Bench apart from the one at Lucknow created in 1948 which is so close to Allahabad! What a pity that an anguished Supreme Court said that, “These facts pose a challenge to the judicial system, inasmuch as the right to speedy trial would also include the right to speedy disposal of appeals of those convicted. If such appeals are not taken up for hearing within a reasonable time, the right of appeal itself would be illusory, inasmuch as incarcerated convicts (who are denied bail) would have undergone a major part, if not whole of the period, of their sentences!”

It is most shameful and most disgraceful that Allahabad High Court has the dubious distinction of accounting for 14,207, or 98% of a total of 14,484 appeals that are pending adjudication for more than 30 years as was noted by a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat and yet no Prime Minister starting from Jawaharlal Nehru to present Narendra Modi has ever dared to create one more Bench apart from the one at Lucknow created in 1948 which is so close to Allahabad! What a pity that an anguished Supreme Court said that, “These facts pose a challenge to the judicial system, inasmuch as the right to speedy trial would also include the right to speedy disposal of appeals of those convicted. If such appeals are not taken up for hearing within a reasonable time, the right of appeal itself would be illusory, inasmuch as incarcerated convicts (who are denied bail) would have undergone a major part, if not whole of the period, of their sentences!”

To be sure, Justices Rao and Bhat also noted that over 33,000 appeals were pending in these 10 High Courts for a period between 20 to 30 years, and again Allahabad High Court had the lion’s share accounting for nearly 20,000 of them. The appeals waiting their turn to be heard for the last 10 to 20 years numbered at 2,35,914 of which 88,732 were in Allahabad High Court! These are all facts and not concocted stories!

Needless to say, this alone explains why Nani Palkivala one of the most brilliant jurist this earth has produced once famously said that, “While it is true that justice should be blind, in our country it is also lame. It barely manages to hobble along. The law may or may not be an ass but in India, it is a snail; it moves at a pace which would be regarded as unduly slow in a community of snails.” Why then should all such steps not be taken to put our judicial system back on rails and not allow it to be in ventilator as most unfortunately we have shamelessly allowed in last 74 years and this holds true most for UP and here too West UP which accounts for more than half of pending cases and still has not even a single bench? Why can't more high court benches be created in UP so that cases are expedited in different benches as was recommended by the 230th report of Law Commission of India as UP has maximum pending cases in India but which till now has been implemented only in peaceful states like Karnataka and Maharashtra which is most shocking? 

Will this CJI ever dare to act on this or will he follow his predecessors and say nothing on this worst injustice with UP and Bihar? Let’s hope he dares to summon his courage just like he has shown now most recently due to which farmer leaders are eulogizing him most passionately! Also, why is it that so many vacancies in judiciary keep lying vacant right from lower courts to high courts even though we rarely see vacant posts in Apex Court? It certainly deserves prompt and proper judicial intervention by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde! No delay!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh

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