Tuesday, October 03, 2006

OFF WITH HIS HEAD

This article was written at that time when UP Cabinet had taken a decision to set up a bench of Allahabad High Court for the western region in 1981. The Allahabad lawyers had gone on strike, the longest in its history. This was to place the correct perspective before the people and mobilise public support.

The U.P. Cabinets decision to set up a bench of the Allahabad High Court in the western region reminds one of the Queen of heart’s decision. ‘Off with his head’ in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

The Chief Minister expressed his ignorance about the recommendation of the Law Commission and the correspondence on the subject. The Law Commission in its fourth report rejected the view that splitting of the high court was necessary in order to take justice to the door of the litigant.

MC Seetalvad, the then Chairman of Law Commission, says (My life, Law and other things page 247),
‘lawyers who appeared on behalf of the Lucknow Bar Association conceded in private that the Lucknow bench should be abolished. Similar views were expressed by advocates practising before different benches of the M.P High Court and the Rajasthan High Court.'


Chief Justice B Dayal of the MP High Court wrote a letter to the then Law Minister seeking abolition of benches in Madhya Pradesh. Sri HR Gokhale agreed but could not do it because of political reasons. In a conference of Chief Justices in 1979 it was said that if the High Court benches were created, in no time benches of the Supreme Court would be created not only in the south but also in east and west.

There can’t be benches of a High Court. Lucknow Bench was created due to historical necessity. The creation of benches does not improve the administration of justice. It undermines it. The difference in expense due to distance is so insignificant that merely for its sake proper administration of justice cannot be sacrificed. If there are arrears at Allahabad it is not because of the High Court is situated at Allahabad but because there are not enough judges and other staff. Experience shows, splitting of the Courts: increases arrears, reduces the uniformity a,amongst the judges, and diminishes the independence not only of the bar but also of the bench. There is no justification for creation of any bench nor should one be created. A State may be divided if need be.

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