Justice V R Krishna Iyer, a minister in the first Communist-led government in Kerala in 1957 and the former Supreme Court judge, who passed away on Thursday was one of the few Supreme Court judges who had previously served a political career.
For many in the judiciary, Justice Iyer was the one who inspired a generation of legal professionals in the country and groomed many of them to use the judiciary as a tool to protect the basic rights of a common man.
“He was my mentor,” said Justice H Suresh, former judge of the Mumbai high court, who led a number of commissions that probed human rights violations and riots. “There is no other judge who could replace Justice Iyer in the country. More than three decades after his retirement from the Supreme Court, he is still remembered for his contributions in ensuring equality and justice for the people,” Justice Suresh said.
“It was Justice Iyer who inspired me to take up public issues even after my retirement. His contributions in initiating people’s tribunals during the Mumbai riots and Gujarat riots and on several other issues should be a model for all jurists,” he said.
Retired judge of the Madras high court, Justice K Chandru, recalls Justice Iyer as a mentor through out his career as a lawyer and the judge of Madras HC. “I knew him personally from my student days,” says Justice Chandru.
Justice Chandru, once a student leader in Madras and an active member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was dismissed from the party in late-1980s. His expulsion was following a public meeting of lawyers he organised in Madras against the party’s stand in Sri Lankan Tamil’s issue.
Justice Iyer, who was upset with the party’s decision, had taken up the matter with the then party general secretary E M S Namboodiripad during a trip to Moscow. He suggested former Kerala Chief Minister E M S Namboodiripad to revoke the expulsion as the party should not lose a young leader like Chandru in Tamil Nadu.
Namboodiripad suggested to file an appeal in party control commission to revoke the expulsion. “Iyer told me about E M S’s suggestion. But I refused to do that as I stood by my opinion,” said Justice Chandru. Justice Iyer’s retort to this refusal: “We are not red enough, lets start a pink party.”
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