Obituary: The man behind PIL
Under normal circumstances centenary of individuals are posthumous. If at all the centenarian is alive, he might be either bed-ridden or a dependent; they suffer from disorientation or memory loss. But, VR Krishna Iyer did not belong to any of those categories. He was fully conscious; his intellect was sharp as it used to be 20 years ago, when he died at a hospital in Kochi on December 4.
|“With the passing away of Justice VR Krishna Iyer we have lost a great jurist, who had made seminal contributions to turn our judicial system into a vehicle of social justice. A great humanist, he will ever be remembered for the contributions he made to improve the quality of our social life. It was only recently I had an opportunity of meeting him, which was an invigorating experience for me. What appealed me the most was his sense of purpose and unadulterated love for all. An erudite scholar, he was content with simple ostentatious living.”
—Mohan Bhagwat, RSS Sarsanghachalak
Krishna Iyer lived as the brand ambassador of morality, commitment, justice and legal wisdom. Seeing his activism and involvement in one or another issue of public interest every day he was “100 years young”. His letters and statements were powerful weapons and they served to give justice to the needy and deprived class. These days ‘PIL’ (Public Interest Litigation) is an integral part of our legal system, thanks to the efforts of Justice Krishna Iyer.
Krishna Iyer, known to be a Leftist and Socialist, did not have any hesitation to rub the shoulders with Sangh men in their activities if they did suit his thoughts. Kochi International Book Fair is one among them. The undersigned, who has been playing an important role in organising the Fair since its very inception in 1997, remembers the key roles Justice Iyer had played in maintaining the success and vigour of the Fair. He was president of the Fair for two consecutive years. In fact that is how junior activists like us cultivated exemplary rapport with the legendary Iyer
despite the ideological differences between RSS thoughts and his Leftist philosophy.
The undersigned had the freedom to step into his bed room and request for his assistance for any issue of social significance. Once he did even shoot a fax to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when I disclosed to him what I heard from an organisational colleague that President Bush was pressing for India’s signature for a WTO resolution which could jeopardise the interests of India. And, Iyer’s interference served its purpose.
Iyer’s initiative to bring peace in Thalasserry in 2008, when CPM unleashed murder spree against RSS-BJP workers, was remarkable. I still remember his desperate request to me for the phone contacts of RSS leadership and the way he handled it.
Since Justice Iyer was a minister of several important portfolios in the Communist government led by Communist veteran EMS Namboo-thirippad in 1957, media and certain people tied to brand him as Communist or Leftist. But, the most suitable cap for him was that of a ‘Humanist’. That is why he maintained excellent relation with Shri Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat CM. When Modiji visited Justice Iyer during his Kochi visit on November 13, 2010 that relation reached greater heights. The letter he wrote to the RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat when the latter cleverly handled the situation arose in connection with the nomination of Narendra Modi as the PM candidate carried sincere thanks and congratulations. He released the reply received from Mohanji to the media with spotless pride. —T Satisan, Kochi