1998: Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

1998:  Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

In every age and land, there arises voices that give expression to the concern and yearnings of the mute masses.  They echo the agonies of the underprivileged condemned to a life of deprivation for the faults of others.  They reflect the hopes of the suffering people for better days to come.  In this age and in this land, the voice that rings out loudest and clearest on behalf of the helpless millions is that of Mr. Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer.

Vaidhyanathapuram Rama Ayyar Krishna Iyer had the rare opportunity to serve his compatriots from all three limbs of the State.  The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.  The forum changed, the functions changed but his goal remained the same at all times.  Service to fellow beings, especially the poorest of the poor prompted him to help them so that they may enjoy the same rights as the rest and the human rights ideals may thus be realized fully and universally.

He began the crusade as a young lawyer in a small town in  Kerala  at  a time when human rights advocacy was not a popular cause and was indeed fraught with danger. 

Later, as a Member of the Assembly he first got into the hallowed precincts of the legislature.  When a communist led government was voted to power in Kerala in an epoch making election, he was called upon to shoulder the responsibilities of Law Minister and Home Minister.  He used the opportunity to let the wind of change blow through the musty corridors of power.  He gave primacy to prison reforms during the brief period he held the ministerial office.

After a short spell as a Judge of the Kerala High Court, Mr. Krishna Iyer was elevated to the Supreme Court Bench.  As the Apex Court acted to rebuild the democratic structure that had been battered by the emergency, he played a leading art in fortifying the protective mechanisms to enable it to withstand future assaults on civil and political rights.  He also strove conscientiously to secure social, economic and cultural rights for all.

Having retired from the service of the State, he continued in the service of the people’s spectrum of NGO’s in the country and abroad. He became a tireless campaigner for protection and promotion of human rights.  Traveling far and wide he makes common cause with every victim of human rights violation be he a child worker, a bonded labourer, a dispossessed Adivasi or a shelterless old man.

As Supreme Court Judge, he played a significant role in evolving the concept of public interest litigation, which is unique and effective instrument for the protection of Human

In recognisation of his meritorious services in the cause of human rights, Vigil India Movement accorded the M.A.Thomas National Human Rights Award 1998 to Mr.V.R.Krishna Iyer.
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