‘At 96, Justice Iyer continues to be a crusader’

Monday, November 1, 2010

NEW DELHI - Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, 96, is a crusader and his voice can be heard when freedom is in danger, justice is in jeopardy or probity in public life is in peril, said union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy.

Addressing a meeting organized Monday to celebrate the 96th birthday of Justice Iyer, a former Supreme court judge, Reddy said: “He believed in and fought for a value based society.”

Justice Iyer is a wordsmith who coined phrases which were profoundly meaningful, the minister said and pointed out that after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy he described the industrial disaster as Bhoposhima (combining Bhopal and Hiroshima - a Japanese city where an atom bomb was dropped during World War II).

He is a humanist to the core, the minister said.

Noted jurist Fali S. Nariman said that Justice Iyer was the conscience of the country who would not think twice before even telling the Chief Justice of India that he is wrong on so-and-so count.

It is only he who can say “this is wrong, Mr. Chief Justice of India”, Nariman said.

Justice Iyer is a man of substance and unlike present-day judges he would never make caustic remarks about a litigant client or counsel. Now-a-days these caustic remarks are made and the next day they find place in newspaper columns, said Nariman.

He is solid and had an ear for every point of view, the senior counsel told the gathering organized by Capital Foundation.

He recalled with nostalgia the court proceedings conducted by the three-judge bench of Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice Y.V. Chandrachud. They were three distinct personalities yet they had a common thread of humanism and humility.

Nariman also referred to a recent article he wrote on cricket after a one-day match between India and Australia was washed off due to rains.

Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) V.N. Rajsekhran Pillai said that Justice Iyer is a multifaceted personality and it is very difficult to profile him. He said that as he grows, he defies the belief that a person gets prejudiced with age.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh said that Justice Iyer’s world view is so clear that one could predict on which side of the fence he would be in dealing with a matter.

He said Justice Iyer is always with the weak, the poor, the destitute and the disadvantaged. He said that he is a living legend and must be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna - the highest civilian award in India.

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