Justice Vaidyanathapura Rama Krishna Iyer died on 4 December 2014 in Kochi at the age of 100. He died due to renal and cardiac failure. He was former Supreme Court Judge, an MLA from Kerala, a philosopher and a renowned social activist.
Throughout his life, Krishna Iyer stood for the cause of justice, equality and socialism who played the role of a people’s tribune till the end of his life. As he had said, “Judges are the spinal cord of the rule of law, and the final interpreters of the Constitution. Their judgments govern social and economic justice.”
He was leading light among the judicial fraternity who had pushed for reformative theory, in contrast to deterrence theory in the criminal justice system.
His Landmark Judgements
Shamsher Singh & Anr vs State Of Punjab, August 1974: This case interpreted the powers of the Cabinet vis-à-vis the President and the Governors wherein it held that President and Governors are bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers except in certain situations.
Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, January 1978: This case gave a new dimension to Article 21 of the Constitution related to Right to Life and personal liberty so as to imply many more fundamental rights from Article 21.
C. B. Muthamma vs Union of India & Ors, September 1979: The SC ruled against gender discrimination. Allowing a case filed by C B Muthama, India’s first woman ambassador, the court struck down a provision which mandated that on marriage, women IFS officers should resign.
Municipal Council, Ratlam, vs Vardhichand AIR 1980: This case interpreted Article 21 to include the right to a wholesome environment and changed the whole approach of the courts in matters concerning environment.
He was also known for other landmark judgments, especially for granting a stay on the Allahabad High Court's judgment against former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which led to the Emergency in 1975. Allahabad High Court verdict had declared former Indira Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha void.
About Justice Krishna Iyer
• Justice Iyer was part of the citizen's panel that inquired into the 2002 Gujarat riots along with retired justice P.B. Sawant and others.
• He had unsuccessfully contested against the Congress’ R Venkataraman in the presidential polls of 1987.
• He became the judge of the Supreme Court on 17 July 1973 and retired at the age of 65 on 14 November 1980.
• In 1968, he was appointed as a Judge in Kerala High Court
• He was appointed as Law Commission Chairman in 1971
• He was elected to the then Madras Assembly in 1952 and was a member of Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1957.
• He had also served as the Minister for Law, Home, Irrigation, Power, Prison, and Inland Navigation in the first communist government of Kerala headed by E M S Namboodiripad during 1957-59.
• He was instrumental in the passage of the Kerala Education Bill, Agrarian Relations Bill, and the Agricultural (Indebtness Relief) Bill which brought relief to marginalised farmers. The Kerala Dowry Abolition Bill was introduced when he was the Minister.
• He is the last but one Supreme Court judge who have previously served as a politician
• Justice Iyer called Bhopal gas tragedy as Bhoposhima (Bhopal + Hiroshima) caused by gasassination.
• In 1999, he was conferred with Padma Vibhushan by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government
• He was born on 15 November 1914 at Vaidyanathapuram near Palakkad, in Malabar region of Kerala in a Tamil Brahmin family
Books written by Justice Krishna Iyer
There are 105 published books by V. R. Krishna Iyer which includes four travelogues. Some other books include
• Law and the People (1972)
• Law, Freedom and Change (1975)
• Law India, Some Contemporary Challenges (1976)
• Social Justice and the Handicapped Humans (1978)
• The Indian Law (Dynamic Dimensions of the Abstract) (2009)
• Wandering in Many Worlds (2009) is the autobiography of V.R. Krishna Iyer
Where: in Kochi
What: died at 100
When: 4 December 2014