Sunday, January 18, 2015

Justice V R Krishna Iyer - Bhishmacharya of Indian Judiciary

This was Justice V R Krishna Iyer's Last interview and I am privileged. I could not ask much. He was tired and 100.

On June 12, 1975 Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of Allahabad High Court held the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of rigging the Lok Sabha election of 1971. The judge held her election to parliament null and void. He also barred her from contesting elections for six years. Indira Gandhi’s lawyers filed an appeal in the Supreme Court believing that the highest court in the country will pull her out of the quagmire she was in. But her hopes were dashed when the then Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer barred Indira Gandhi from participating in debates or voting in Parliament.  He then referred the matter to a larger bench of the court. Justice Krishna Iyer’s stand on the issue prompted Indira to act fast and declare ‘Emergency’, the darkest chapter ever in the history of India. However, his undaunted spirit led to the rise of new school of thought and a new era of ‘Judicial Activism’ was born. Ironically, it was Indira Gandhi who appointed V R Krishna Iyer as a Supreme court judge.On November 13, ‘Krishna Iyer Swamy’ as he is fondly called celebrated his 100th

birthday.He looked tired but the energy had not diminished one bit. “You know, I am 100. I am tired. I have terrible knee pain. You are young and have a lot to travel before you reach my age,” he had said with a friendly smile. Though he often complained of not being able to hear and see, the way he promptly replied to every question that was put to him made one wonder whether he really was able to do so or not.

“You will have to come close to my ear and speak,” he had said.Ask the man who always stood for every noble causes, is there any regrets in life? He replied promptly,”eradication of poverty and the upliftment of the underprivileged. Those days are yet to come when everyone gets justice from the judiciary.”

This intention was the main force that led Iyer to support a campaign to introduce Islamic banking and finance in India in 2010. Iyer said, “I welcome Islamic finance in India for it has proven successful in poverty alleviation and promoting sustainable growth in many countries, including the United States, and it is very relevant in our country where 20 million people are starving.”

Speaking about the judiciary he said, “I am not at all satisfied with the way it is going ahead. Cases drag on and pile up. Certain judge retires without pronouncing verdict on cases being heard by him. Hence, before appointing any judges, they should be put on posted on the post for six months on a temporary basis. If their work is found to be satisfactory, their appointment can be confirmed,” he said.He has never ever taken a break from reading and especially, writing until yesterday. “I used to write. But I stopped doing so from yesterday.”

His PA Ramanathan said that though the newspapers are dictated to him, he goes through the headlines with magnifying glasses.


  1. Krishna Iyer was a friend of 'the poor,loneliest and the lost.'.A politician who became a judge, he knew the sufferings of the poor and always championed for lost causes.An eminent and humane judge ,he was the pioneer of judicial activism.He had his style of bombastic and flowery writing.I used to read all his articles with a dictionary by my side!
    Thank you for interviewing and writing about the great man.

  2. You were lucky to meet him, and the rest of us are lucky to experience that meeting through your eyes. Interesting blogs. I enjoyed your quotes too.