Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, a true doyen among jurists, was one of those rare personalities in modern Kerala, who could put his indelible imprint in the social and political scenario, besides the judicial realm in our country. Born in May 1915 as the son of Shri. V.V. Rama Iyer, Shri Krishna Iyer started his political career as a Member of Madras Legislative Assembly during 1952-56.
Justice Krishna Iyer subsequently became elected to the first Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1957 from Tellicherry constituency, contesting as an independent candidate backed by the Communist party. In that first ministry headed by Shri. E.M.S. Namboodirippad, Shri. Krishna Iyer held the portfolio of Law and Irrigation, from 5..4..1957 to 31..7..1959. In the elections held to the second KLA also, Shri Krishna Iyer remained a member when he was declared elected by the Election Tribunal. His tenure as Minister is particularly remembered in the sense that, the period was witness to several far reaching reforms. His indepth knowledge in jurisprudence and practical experience as a lawyer, also helped the government to bring in many epoch making legislations in the history of the state.
In 1968, Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer was appointed as a Judge of the High Court. From 1971 to 1973, he was a member of the Law Commission. During the period, from 1973 to 1980, he also served as Judge of the Supreme Court. Being a jurist whose heart is close to the common man and his hopes and aspirations, Justice Iyer's judgments as Supreme Court Judge reflected this human perspective and concern.
V.R. Krishna Iyer is not a mere Judge. He is known among the people as justice Krishna Iyer. His personality is beyond that of a Judge, he is a humanitarian and a social worker. In 1948, when he was a practicing Advocate, Krishna Iyer was taken to preventive custody by the Madras Police. He was in Kannur Jail for one month. The charge against him was that he used the Court as a place for propagating political agenda.
He was a famous Advocate when he was elected as an MLA to the Legislative Assembly in 1957. EMS requested him to join his Cabinet. He was in the forefront to fight the civil cases against Landlords in Malabar and also the criminal cases in favour of the labour class.
V.R. Krishna Iyer was the minister for seven portfolios namely, Home, Law, Prison, Electricity, Irrigation, Social Welfare, Inland Water, in the first EMS led communist Government in Kerala which came to power in 1957 following the victory of the Communist Party of India. He was 42 years at that time and was the youngest minister in the first democratically elected popular communist Government in India. Only two persons from the first EMS cabinet are still alive-Justice Krishna Iyer and K.R. Gowri Amma.
Minister, V.R Krishna Iyer who contested the election without accepting the formal communist party symbol, slowly became unpopular with the party leaders and party cadre. He did not permit any political influence in the departments under his control. The language of Justice V.R Krishna Iyer, a great Judge of the Supreme Court, a committed social reformer, a crusader against injustice and a leading light for all malayalis, has always attracted every one. His literary skills were evident even in his Judgements. In the language of his writings and speeches he maintains a level of literary beauty.
In 1975, in the election related case of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, Justice Krishna Iyer who was the Judge of the Supreme Court at that time refused to give the Judgement according to her interests. This led to promulgation of emergency in the country. That was how the black chapter in the history of modern india was scripted by Indira Gandhi.
Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer contested election again in 1987 after he retired as a Supreme Court Judge. He also contested as a presidential candidate. His friend and opponent candidate Sri R. Venkata Raman defeated him and became the President.
Smt. Sarada who passed away some time ago, was his life partner.
Awards and distinctions
LLD (Doctor of Laws) Honoris Causa by Annamalai University.
Soviet Land Nehru Award, 1968.
Sri. Jehangir Gandhi Medal and Award for Industrial Peace, 1982.
Fellow, Indian Society of Criminology.
Distinguished Fellow, Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.
The Kumarappa – Reckless Award, 1988. Awarded by The Indian Society of Criminology and earlier by the TATA Institute of Social Science, Bombay.
Shri. Dasharathmal Singhvi Citation & Award, 1990, conferred by the Banaras Hindu University.
Honorary Fellow, Indian Association For Environmental Management, Nagpur-1990.
Honorary Member, Rotary Clubs of Cochin and Trivandrum South. Recipient of For the Sake the Honour Award, Coimbatore And Cannanore.
Baba Saheb B.R. Ambedkar National Award by the Bharatiya Dalit Sahithya Academy.
Ramasramam Award 1992.
Naresh Chandran Sen Gupta Gold Medal for the year 1992, awarded by the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
LL.D (Honoris Causa) awarded by the National Law School of India University, in 1995, Bangalore (India) and Bhagatpur University, Calcutta (India).
D. Lit. Conferred by Dakshnina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha.
Title of 'Living Legend of Law' awarded by the International Bar Association in 1995 in recognition of outstanding service to the legal profession internationally and for commitment to the Rule of Law.
D. Lit. conferred by the North Bengal University in 1998.
M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award for 1998.
Manava Seva Award by Rotary International.
Padma Vibhushan Award by the President of India (the Highest Award next to Bharath Ratna).
Gold Medal for delivering the VIV FIAMC World Congress Oration on 5 December 1999 in Mumbai.
Recipient of Vyloppilli Award 1999 for the meritorious service in the fields Human Rights, law, administration etc. The Award was given in February 2000 by the Sahrudaya Vedi, Thrissur.
Recipient of Manavasamanvaya Award by Kerala Sanskrit Academy, Thrissur on 28 February 2000.
Recipient of Award from Assembly for Guidance and Service for the meritorious service in the field of Human Rights – May 2000.
Recipient of C. Kesavan Memorial Keerthimudra award in recognition of the meritorious service in the field of Human Rights – May 2000
Recipient of award on 4 October 2000. THE ORDER OF FRIENDSHIP, the greatest Russian Government Decoration for personal contribution to the cause of strengthening friendly ties of traditional and time tested friendship, co-operation and everlasting affection between two great Nations.
Recipient of State Award for non-medical person from the I.M.A. amounting to Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand) on 12 November 2000. The award received at the 44th State Annual Conference of the I.M.A at Trivandrum.
Recipient of Capital Foundation Award for his outstanding contribution in the field of Judicial Reforms.
Law and the People
Law, Freedom and Change
Law India, Some Contemporary Challenges
Jurisprudence and Juris-Conscience à la Gandhi
Social Mission of Law
Law & Social Change and Indian Overview
Social Justice and the Handicapped Humans
The Integral Yoga of Public Law and Development in the Context of India
Of Law & Life
Life After Death
Wandering in Many Worlds
The Indian Law (Dynamic Dimensions of the Abstract)
Keralites have proved their deligence and extra ordinary brillience through out the world. Keralites are well known for their honesty and efficiency in all fields. In the list of Prominent Personalities we have tried to include all famous personalities from Kerala. We are trying to collect the details of the rest. If you have the details of any such personalities, please send to us.