Justice VR Krishna Iyer no more

  • Eminent jurist passed away on Thursday afternoon
  • Judge who had courage to give radical decisions
  • Minister of first Communist govt. in Kerala
  • He was responsible for many people-oriented legislations

New Delhi, December 4: Eminent judge, minister, social reformer and humanist Justice VR Krishna Iyer is no more. The renowned judge breathed his last at 3.30 pm on Thursday at a private hospital in Kochi. He died of renal and cardia failure. He is survived by two sons. He was in hospital for a fortnight.

Justice Iyer was a man of many areas. He was a lawyer, a public servant, a member of legislature and a social reformer. In fact, the name of his autobiography is ‘Wandering Many Worlds’. He stood out in the worlds of law, public life, social justice and letters. Known to be a no-nonsense person with forthright expression, Justice Iyer was associated with many a landmark judgment. He celebrated his 100th birth anniversary just 20 days ago at Kochi when many prominent persons from all walks of life greeted him heartily.

His judgment in Shamsher Singh case interpreted powers of the cabinet vis-à-vis the president of the nation. His say on Maneka Gandhi case gave an altogether new dimension to Article 21. There were many such cases where the laws were radically interpreted. Justice Iyer was a votary of reformist theory as against deterrence theory in criminal justice.

Justice VR Krishna Iyer exhibited rare courage in giving controversial judgments like his granting of conditional stay on Allahabad High Court judgment declaring the election of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi void. The whole judicial fraternity criticized him for the unpopular judgment. But he stood his ground. Justice Iyer did not hesitate to be on a committee of citizens to probe the Gujarat riots in 2002. He had also the guts to take a chance and fight for the highest office of the land. He contested to the post of President of India against R Venkatraman in 1987.

Vaidyanathapura Rama Krishna Iyer was born on November 15, 1914 to an eminent criminal lawyer VV Rama Iyer in Thalassery in Kerala. He studied at his native place and obtained his Law Degree from Madras Law College. He started his practice under the supervision of his father at the Thalsassery court. He was also active in political arena. He became a Member of Madras Legislative Assembly in 1952. He was a member of the first Communist government in Kerala headed by EMS Namboodripad in 1957. He handled several portfolios like power, irrigation, home, justice, law and social welfare. He was responsible for a number of radical legislations passed by Kerala Assembly.

After losing Assembly elections in 1965, he returned to law practice which took him to the top of the ladder. He was appointed as a judge of Kerala High Court on July2, 1969. He was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court of India on July 17, 1973 from which position he retired on attaining 65th year on November 14, 1980. He spent his post-retirement years very purposefully reacting on every important development in the country and writing comments, books and delivering lectures on topics of great value. He was actively participating in public discourse till a few weeks before his demise. He tried all through his life to preserve and nourish a value system which was essential to keep the country united by emphasizing the beauty of the unity in diversity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to the learned justice through his twitter thus: ‘Fine lawyer, eminent jurist, incredible philosopher and above all a phenomenal human being, I bow to justice Krishna Iyer. ‘

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