Justice In Krishna’s Word………
JUSTICE KRISHNA IYER as a Lawyer from Kannur District, Kerala. In 1948 he was jailed for one month because to give legal aid for communists. In 1952 he was a member of Madras Legislative Assembly. Thereafter he contested as an Independent candidate with Communist support to Legislative Assembly and became first Home minister of Kerala in 1957 (first kerala ministry under EMS Nambudiripad), there after he handled the portfoleous of Law and Justice , Jail, Water and Electricity. The first Communist Ministry was dissolved by President of India after two years in 1959.Thereafter he continues his Profession as a Lawyer and shifted to Kerala High court. He became High court judge in 1968 even there were criticism that he was a known communist and in 1973 he was elevated to Supreme Court Judge and served until 1980. He was pertinacious in not to accept any remunerations from governments or from any agency after his retirement for his job. Justice Krishna Iyer chaired many commissions and other jobs entrusted by governments even in his latter 90’s. Some 700 judgements he pronounced from the bench of the Supreme Court and all of them were studded with bold ideas boldly expressed.
They all had but one aim : Uphold the human rights of ordinary people, even of detainee suspects (he pronounced against handcuffing as a routine) and jailed convicts (he took up a prisoner’s letter about torture as a public interest litigation-Sunil Batra case-1977). His experience during his one month jail imprisonment in 1948 and as a Jail Minister during 1959 reflected his Judgement in Sunil Batra Case.
The Election Case appeal by Indira Gandhi In 1975.The Judgement by Justice Krishna Iyer certainly changed the game for INDIAN HISTORY.
Justice Krishna Iyer was a junior puisne judge in the Supreme Court at that time. It was just an accident that the appeal came up before him. It was summer recess for the court and Krishna Iyer happened to be filling in a vacation judge. That was when Indira Gandhi approached the court pleading for an absolute stay on the Allahabad High Court’s verdict disqualifying her. Indira Gandhi was at the height of her power. It was not incumbent on the junior vacation judge to take up the case. He could have just as well granted a stay till the reopening of the court when a proper bench of three or four judges could have given a decision. But this was Krishna Iyer who had what Eminent Jurist Nariman called ”that abiding quality of a great judge-he was fearless”. Taking the full weight of responsibility upon himself, the vacation judge heard the arguments nonstop for six hours, three each by Nani Palkiwala (for Raj Narain). It was 2 o’clock in the morning when the writing of the judgement was completed.
The court rejected the plea for a complete stay of the High Court verdict and allowed only a partial stay. Indira Gandhi was Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer allowed to function as Prime Minister, but without the right to vote in Parliament. The order was handed down on july 24. On july 25, Emergency was proclaimed. To understand the extent of Justice Krishna Iyer’s courage in passing that judgement, we must know that Palkhivala had sounded a warning during the argument. His words were; ”The nation was solidly behind (Indira) as Prime Minister ‘ ‘ and ‘ ‘ there were momentous consequences , disastrous to the country, if anything less than the total suspension of the order under appeal were made”. Krishna Iyer remained daunted . Constitutional lawyer H M Seervai, usually a critic of Krishna Iyer, described this as the Supreme Court’s finest hour. His verdict in Ratlam Muncipality (1980) is notable and a good directive how a muncipality works. Krishna Iyer as an Activist at the age of 99 he even sat in dharna demanding a cancer centre for Kochi. He may be perhaps the only RTD. Supreme Court Justice who got notice from a High court (kerala) for criticising a judgement and judge. However, later the High court dropped the contempt of court proceedings initiated against him. In 1989 our country has Honoured him the PADMA VIBUSHAN. He wrote about 70 books and thousands of Articles.
Unfortunately, Justice Krishna Iyer left us on 4th December, 2014. Had he been there, he should have written much on current subjects. But his views on most of these subjects are available in his writings, which include judgments and articles. Fali S Nariman was right in saying that “he was the country’s super judge, even after he had retired”.
BY : Vedansh Anand, FIMT College of Law
[The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indian Legal Solution and Indian Legal Solution does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same].