It’s paradoxical that the most populous state of our country, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has the maximum number of pending cases in the country and the least number of benches to handle them. UP is also among the largest states, area wise, and the former Chief Minister, Mayawati, had in fact, recommended the partition of the state into smaller parts for better administration. Even Azam Khan, senior minister in the present UP government, too strongly spoke in favour of a high court bench in West UP. It is to be noted that in the year 2011 , the percentage of crime incidents in UP was 33.3 percent of the country’s total, which itself serves as the biggest proof of just how bad things are in the state.
If the government erred in creating only one high court bench in UP and that too just 150 km away from Allahabad, does it confer a right on our successive governments to perpetuate it even after 65 years of independence? Both the governments at the state and the Centre are doing absolutely nothing on this score, which is most regrettable. According to senior lawyer and present member of UP Bar Council Anil Bakshi, “The distance from Meerut to Pakistan-based Lahore high court is 500 km whereas from Meerut to Allahabad is 607 km. From Saharanpur to Allahabad is 752 km and from Saharanpur to Lahore high court is 380 km. Distance of Gautambuddhanagar and Ghaziabad to Delhi high court is just 25 – 30 km.
It was in 1955 that the then Chief Minister of UP — Sampoornanand– had recommended the creation of a high court bench of West UP in Meerut. Later, former PM Mrs Indira Gandhi during the 1977 elections had to face similar demand of a bench from the people of West UP. In 1981 the UP State government had recommended to the Centre for creation of a high court bench here. Even in 1981 – 82, former PM Rajiv Gandhi had assured the lawyers of Meerut Bar Association that a high court bench would be set up in West UP. In September 1981, the Jaswant Singh Commission was constituted, which recommended creation of a bench in West UP in its report submitted in April 1985 but the Centre did not act even though it promptly acted on the other recommendation and created a high court bench in Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
In 1981 the Central Action Committee was formed to set up a high court bench for West UP. From May 1981 the lawyers from West UP also decided to observe every Saturday as a strike in support of a bench. In between 1981 and 2001, the lawyers went on strike for several months but with no success. The law minister Ashwani Kumar and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had also made assurances for setting up a high court bench in West UP but had to retreat from their earlier stand under pressure from vested quarters. 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.’’ Former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan recently said that, “Only more courts can make justice delivery effective. If we have adequate courts, the system would function smoothly.” Prof NR Madhava Menon, a founder director of the National Judicial Academy and a former member of the Law Commission of India, very rightly said, “The litigant public now has a right to demand from the judiciary quicker delivery of justice, planned elimination of arrears and enhanced access to justice. The judiciary is indeed on trial on its commitment to timely justice.”