Let me begin on a very bitter note by pointing out that crime against women are multiplying most rapidly in UP and this is most felt in West UP which is the worst affected of all the regions of UP. Throwing of acid on woman or rape, gang rape, molestation and all other forms of crimes against women and girls are openly being perpetrated in West UP especially as also in UP which is certainly most concerning! This West UP with 26 districts has an area of 98,000 square km which is more than the area of many other states and has a population of more than 9 crore which is more than any other state except Maharashtra and Bihar. Here too area wise West UP is bigger than Bihar which has an area of 94,000 square km.
It is most hurting to read that dacoits are fearlessly killing innocent people on highway as happened most recently on May 25 and then in front of their men had the guts to gang rape the 4 women accompanying them just a kilometer away from the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida and when one man resisted he was shot in the chest from point blank range who died and others were thrashed badly! This clearly demonstrates that women are not safe even when accompanied with their entire family! Such incidents keep happening on a regular basis in West UP especially! 2 minor girls were gangraped recently in Moradabad! Criminals fully know that West UP has no high court bench and Allahabad High Court tops in the number of pending cases about 10 lakh pending cases and it would take ages before the cases are finally decided as they keep on lingering interminably and by the time they are decided they would die a natural death and victims would suffer endlessly travelling again and again 800-900 km away from West UP to Allahabad as West UP with 26 districts have no high court bench! This must change now if the fear of law is to be ingrained permanently in the minds of such criminals! We all know fully well that how a similar incident had triggered huge protests in July 2016 when a mother and daughter were gangraped in Bulandshahar! The newly appointed Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhonsle rightly lashed out at the law and order situation in UP and said that in Maharashtra women or girl venture out in night anywhere yet never such incidents of gang rape occur!
Still you see the irony! Maharashtra has 3 high court benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa apart from high court at Mumbai but West UP has not even a single bench of high court! In UP itself both high court at Allahabad and a single bench at Lucknow are located so close to each other with a distance of just about 150-200 km. Why not a single bench of high court was created in West UP even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi very strongly recommended 3 benches for West UP and hilly areas adjoining it which now form a separate state – Uttarakhand at Agra, Nainital and Dehradun even though bench were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra on its recommendations? Benches were also approved for Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu! Why women victims have to travel so far away to Allahabad which is about 700-800 km away from most of the districts of West UP and be made to suffer so much for the inordinate delay and made to bear the huge expenses in fighting the case for her right in making sure that sexual offenders are sent behind bars?
It is so shocking and disgusting to see that West UP is fast becoming the epicentre of all kinds of crimes, rapes, gangrapes, brutal murders, mass murders, dacoity, robbery and what not! 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 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 even though a high court bench was created at Lucknow so close to Allahabad way back on July 1, 1948!
What an unbeatable irony that Allahabad High Court tops with maximum pending cases at 10 lakh and still it has least high court benches – only one at Lucknow for just 8 districts! No other High Court in India has 10 lakh or 9 lakh or 8 lakh or 7 lakh or 6 lakh or 5 lakh or 4 lakh or 3 lakh or even 2 lakh cases pending and still some of them have got 3 high court benches like Karnataka, Maharashtra and others but UP has just one Bench only! Why this step-motherly treatment for UP?
What a shame that man and boys in West UP have the guts to indulge in molestation as they 14 of them did in Rampur district in West UP when they molested and assaulted 2 girls in broad daylight in a village under Tanda police station in Rampur and also filed the act on their cellphone cameras and later put it on Facebook! One accused even lifts her. While the girls are seen pleading with them to let them go, the youths are seen laughing and misbehaving with them! Yet we hardly see any strict action! They have just no fear of law!
But see the unpalatable irony! Politicians are not prepared to create even a single bench anywhere in UP leave alone West UP! It is a matter of great shame that Allahabad High Court which last year on March 17 had completed its 150th year of establishment has the least benches in India – only one at Lucknow and that too just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad! Why no high court bench in West UP at Meerut or Agra or at Jhansi or some other place? We all know that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and also the oldest court! Still why it has least benches in India only one which is so close to Allahabad? If Lucknow is capital of UP, Bhopal is also capital of MP, Bhubaneshwar is also capital of Odisha and so is the case with many other big cities which neither have high court nor bench!
Why politicians have ensured that a high court bench was created for Lucknow about 69 years back on July 1, 1948 but not at any other place especially in West UP, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur even 70 years later? Why Centre decided to create 2 more benches for Karnataka at Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts but not a single for West UP with 26 disricts? Why 230th report of Law Commission submitted in 2009 which recommended creation of more benches has only been implemented in Karnataka alone and not in UP, Bihar or other big states?
Why when UP which is among the largest States, has maximum population – more than 22 crore as CM Yogi Adityanath keeps pointing out every now and then, maximum districts – 75, maximum constituencies, 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 per cent, 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, maximum cities more than 700, maximum fake encounters killings, custody killings, maximum dowry cases, maximum rape and gang rape 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 MLCs and yet has least benches – only one and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow?
Rajnath Singh who is Union Home Minister while addressing public gathering in Patiyali constituency of Kasarganj district is on record stated in February 2017 that UP reported 7,673 riots, 4660 murder, 4096 robberies and 260 dacoities in just one year and has pledged on numerous occasions his unstinted support for a high court bench in West UP but even after his BJP led government is nearing 3 years in power yet it has failed to create even a single more bench of high court not just in West UP but anywhere in UP! Why?
Our former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had himself raised the demand for a high court bench for West UP in 1986 inside Parliament but even after more than 30 years we are nowhere!
Women are most unsafe in lawless West UP and UP! This alone explains why former UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon termed UP as “rape and crime capital” of India! More steps need to be taken to ensure safety of women. Central government led by PM Narendra Modi should stop coughing excuses now and note that it has completed 3 years in power and now its government is in power in UP also which makes it further easier to create more benches here! Dr Satyapal Singh Malik who is BJP MP had raised the bench issue in Parliament last year and demanded creation of 5 more benches but till now not even a single bench created here! Another Central minister and BJP MP Sanjeev Baliyan had raised the hope that a bench would be created in West UP before 2016 ends by reassuring the people but even now as 2017 has half ended we see no process in place for creating more benches in West UP or at any other place in whole of UP!
Why are all parties hell bent that under no circumstances should the unique record set by our first PM Jawaharlal Nehru of creating a high court bench at Lucknow on 1 July 1948 be broken before at least 100 years are completed? Seventy years have already been completed since independence! When Nehru allowed the creation of a bench at Lucknow so close to Allahabad way back in 1948 why no other politician allowed creation of a bench at any other place till now? It was way back in 1955 that Dr Sampoornanand had recommended a high court bench for West UP at Meerut but even after 62 years we see no bench as Centre had refused then! Similarly many other UP CM had also recommended the creation of a high court bench here but to no avail! Why?
Lawyers of West UP have been striking work for 6 months without break several times demanding high court bench as they did in 2001 and for 3 months as they did in 2014-15 and we keep seeing strike nearly every month apart from the strike of Saturdays yet no bench! They even go on strike every Saturday since May 1981 to protest West UP not being given a bench even though Justice Jaswant Commission had explicitly recommended 3 benches! Now again they are on strike from September 11 to 14, 2017 and this may even extend further! What they get is just fake assurances sometimes from Centre and sometimes from State! Nothing else!
Finally and most importantly, now no more delay and no more lame excuses! Now only and only more benches for UP! Only then will the more than 22 crore people of UP get some relief especially women and girls who are most vulnerable to all types of crimes and will not have to waste huge money and time to get justice which they don’t get usually in their lifetime as Allahabad High Court is overloaded with more than 10 lakh pending cases and more than half of High Court Judges post are still lying vacant! This open endless sham must end now!
If a high court bench is created it is “poorest of poor” and the most deprived and hapless women who will benefit most as they will be saved from the unnecessary trouble of travelling so far and spending so much extra money, time etc to just attend one hearing alone! Centre must have some pity on woman at least who are most unsafe in lawless UP and especially West UP and immediately order creation of more benches not just in West UP but also in other parts of UP where the crime rate is high! Crime rate is highest in West UP which necessitates creation of bench here on a war footing!
By Sanjeev Sirohi