Friday, February 3rd, 2023 01:51:51

Judiciary Must Reach Out To People Instead Of People Reaching Out To It

By Sanjeev Sirohi
Updated: January 16, 2023 10:54 am

Chief Justice of India Dr DY Chandrachud is hundred percent right that judiciary must reach out to people instead of people reaching out to it. But the moot question is: When will that day come? Why the historic 230th report of Law Commission of India recommending creation of more High Court Benches in India implemented only in Karnataka and in no other state ever since it recommended nearly 14 years back in 2009?

As recently as on August 2, 2022,   the total number of pending cases in India in Supreme Court are 71,411 out of which 56,365 are civil matters and 15,076 are criminal matters. This was informed by the Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju informed the Rajya Sabha on August 4, 2022. Out of these cases, we see that more than 10,491 cases are awaiting disposal for over a decade. Here too we see that over 42,000 cases were pending for less than five years and 18,134 between 5 and 10 years. The Minister gave the statistics from the information provided by the Supreme Court.

Needless to say, the situation of pending cases in High Courts is much worse and still worse is the case of Allahabad High Court of UP which tops among all the States as far as the number of pending cases are concerned and what is worst is that Allahabad has least High Court Benches in India – just one and that too just 200 km away from Allahabad at Lucknow which was created by none other than Lord Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on July 1, 1948 less than a year after independence and now as we celebrate 75 years of independence we find that not a single more High Court Bench has been added most stupidly, most shamelessly and most senselessly by Centre and worst of all the 30 districts of West UP have been attached not with Lucknow which is 200 km earlier but with Allahabad which cannot be justified under any circumstances! What is worse is that Supreme Court too behaved like a mute and helpless spectator and did nothing to address it! When Supreme Court can take suo motu action in so many other cases then why it never acted on this key issue concerning the largest populated state of India?

To top it all, I just recently learnt that the Allahabad High Court is the biggest court not just in Asia but in the whole world as even our PM Narendra Damodardas Modi openly and very proudly acknowledges as I heard once and UP CM Yogi Aditynath proudly acknowledging that UP has more than 25 crore population which is more than even Pakistan and many other countries! But you see the supreme irony that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by the former Supreme Court Judge Justice Jaswant Singh appointed by the then PM Mrs Indira Gandhi in mid 1970s after fully going into the issue strongly  recommended 3 High Court Benches for undivided UP at Agra, Dehradun and Nainital but not even a single High Court Bench was created due to which people of Uttarakhand had to travel thousands of kilometers all the way most stupidly, most shamelessly and most senselessly as if they were slaves right not just till Lucknow where High Court Bench is located but more than 200 km away all the way up till Allahabad to get justice till November 2000 when it was created as a separate state after people agitated very hard and many even lost their precious lives! If High Court Benches had been created well in time as recommended so very commendably by the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission then why would the people have agitated so hard? Why Supreme Court Judges and even the Chief Justices of India from 1947 till November 2000 kept watching as if they had just no power to speak up against this most shameless, senseless and stupid act due to which people of now Uttarakhand had to travel so far as if they were slaves? Ultimately it got High Court itself because of people’s agitation and not because of Supreme Court which did just nothing in this matter as it is doing just nothing now also in case of West UP where population is more than 10 crore and still people of 30 districts are compelled to travel again most stupidly, most shamelessly and most senselessly right up till Allahabad to get justice as Supreme Court leaves everything on Centre alone who is ready to give anything to UP and West UP except High Court Bench!

It must be mentioned here that 59,55,907 cases are pending in 25 High Courts across the country as on July 29, 2022. The highest figure is 1026158 pending cases in Allahabad High Court still most disgracefully has just one High Court Bench but Gauhati High Court has just 57164 cases and still has 4 High Court Benches! Similarly, we see that Bombay High Court has just 592648 pending cases and it has 3 High Court Benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji and 4th one was approved by former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray at Kolhapur for just 6 districts and in addition the present Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis who was former CM also wants the fifth Bench at Pune which earlier also he had himself approved! Calcutta High Court has just 215680 pending cases and it has two High Court Benches at Jalpaiguri and Port Blair,  Madhya Pradesh High Court has just 417288 pending cases and still it also has two High Court Benches at Gwalior and Indore, Karnataka has just 297429 pending cases and it has 3 High Court Benches at Hubli, Dharwad and Gulbarga. This is what I find most troubling! How can any sane person justify just one High Court Bench for UP and that too so close to Allahabad. If Lucknow is capital then so is Bhopal which is capital of Madhya Pradesh which has neither High Court nor Bench, Dehradun is capital of Uttarakhand but High Court is at Nainital, Bhubaneshwar is capital of Odisha but High Court is at Cuttack, Thiruvananthapuram which is capital of Kerala but High Court is at Ernakulam, Dispur which is capital of Assam but High Court is at Gauhati, Raipur which is capital of Chhattisgarh but High Court is at Bilaspur and so also is case in many other states but why most unabashedly both High Court and a single High Court Bench are located so close to each other thereby putting people of far flung areas to maximum inconvenience as we see in case of West UP, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand but Centre most callously just prefers to always look the other way and pretend as if everything is fine on this count!

Adding more to it, we must note here that the figure of backlogs in subordinate courts is 4.13 crores and here too again UP tops with 10535946 pending cases which has minimum High Court Benches in India just one! Maharashtra has 5009824 pending cases still has 3 High Court Benches, Assam has just 462922 pending cases still has 4 High Court Benches, Karnataka has just 1872057 pending cases and still has 3 High Court Benches and even Madhya Pradesh has just 1907117 still has 2 High Court Benches!

There can be no gainsaying that if UP can’t be given more high court benches and West UP can’t have even one High Court Bench which owes for more than half of pending cases of UP as was itself acknowledged even by the Justice Jaswant Singh Commission itself then all the High Court Benches in India must be definitely disbanded right now itself because UP has maximum pending cases and if it can function without any Benches in most needy regions like West UP who are suffering to the hilt where people of more than 30 districts have to travel more than 800 km on an average all the way to Allahabad as conceded by none other than SP Baghel himself recently who is Union Minister of State for Law then why Maharashtra which tops the state list ranking in justice index has 3 High Court Benches and we see even 4th Bench at Kolhapur had been sanctioned by the CM earlier for just 6 districts but not a single more for UP! The process of law should not ever itself become punishment as we see most unfortunately in case of High Court Bench creation in West UP  and why 100 excuses are always forwarded most readymade so as not to create a High Court Bench anywhere in UP most shamelessly by Centre? There is certainly more to it than meets the eye! This is what I find really most disgusting! Neither Centre nor Apex Court itself has covered itself with glory by doing just nothing on it!

No point really whatsoever in celebrating “Constitution Day” every year on November 26 if Centre does not allow even a single High Court Bench to be created in any nook and corner of UP except the one that was created by Lord Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at “Nawab City” called Lucknow so that the people there were not made to travel even 200 km upto Allahabad and the 10 crore people of 30 districts of West UP were attached not with Lucknow which is about 200 km prior to Allahabad but with Allahabad itself which is most atrocious? The purpose of celebrating “Constitution Day” will be served only and only if UP which tops in having maximum pending cases is given more High Court Benches and so also Bihar which is another lawless State yet has not even a Single High Court Bench! This is the real rub! Why only Eastern UP has capital and so also High Court and so also a Single High Court Bench? Why the other regions of West UP have not been deemed fit to be given even a single High Court Bench? Is this not an open mockery of Article 14 of Constitution which talks about right to equality? You decide! When will judiciary reach out to the people of West UP and take prompt steps in creating five more High Court Benches at least in whole of UP but what is most shocking is that not one Bench created since 1948 till now in 2023? Most hurting!

By Sanjeev Sirohi

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