V. R. Krishna Iyer
Vaidyanathapura Rama Krishna Iyer (born November 1, 1915), popularly known as Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, is a former judge in the Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India...

. He was born in a village in Malabar
Malabar District
Malabar District was an administrative district of Madras Presidency in British India and independent India's Madras State. The British district included the present-day districts of Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Palakkad , and Chavakad Taluk of Thrissur District in the northern part of...

 region of Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

. In 1952, he was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly
Kerala Legislative Assembly
The Kerala Legislative Assembly more popularly known as Niyamasabha , is the law making body of Kerala, one of the 28 States in India. The Assembly is formed by 140 elected representatives and one nominated member from the Anglo-Indian community...

; in 1957, he became a minister in the first Communist government in Kerala, serving until 1959.
Having been the minister of law, power, prisons, irrigation and social welfare in the Government of Kerala
Government of Kerala
The Government of Kerala is a democratically elected body that governs the State of Kerala, India for a period of 5 years. The state government is headed by the Governor of Kerala as the nominal head of state, with a democratically elected Chief Minister as real head of the executive. The state...

, he was instrumental in bringing about many significant changes in thse sector. In 1973, he was sworn in as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India...

; as of 2011, he is the last Supreme Court judge to have previously served as a politician. He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan
Padma Vibhushan
The Padma Vibhushan is the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India. It consists of a medal and a citation and is awarded by the President of India. It was established on 2 January 1954. It ranks behind the Bharat Ratna and comes before the Padma Bhushan...

 in the year 1999. He is one of the oldest judges in india
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


Justice Iyer was Home Minister and minister for law, power, prisons, irrigation and social welfare in the Government of the State of Kerala following the victory of the Communist Party of India
Communist Party of India
The Communist Party of India is a national political party in India. In the Indian communist movement, there are different views on exactly when the Indian communist party was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by CPI is 26 December 1925...

 under E. M. S. Namboodiripad
E. M. S. Namboodiripad
Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad, , popularly known as EMS, was an Indian Communist leader and the first Chief Minister of Kerala. As the first non-Congress chief minister in independent India, he became the leader of the first democratically elected communist government in the world...

 in the 1957 elections. He won the Elections as an Independent, and later pledged support to the Communist government.http://www.vrkrishnaiyer.org/achievement.html He was the originator of Kerala Land Reforms Act, which drastically transformed the land holding pattern among the people of the State of Kerala. But he transferred all his family property under a trust so that his properties could be safe from the provisions of the Land Reforms Act. Iyer retired from politics in 1959.

Iyer became a judge of the High court of Kerala on 2 July 1968. He became a Judge of the Supreme Court of India in 1973. During this time, the Supreme Court interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution of India
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens...

 in the sense that the national government was obliged to provide free legal services to accused persons in custody. He retired from the Supreme Court in November 1980.

Iyer has rendered several important judgments involving the interpretation of the Constitution of India and the statutory as well as personal law of Muslims. Analyzing and summarizing his judgments, a book titled "Muslim Law- An analysis of the judgments rendered by Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer" has been published in the year 2006.

Public role

In August 2011,Iyer addressed the CM of Gujarat as "my dear venerable Modi". "I hold you high as chief minister and as a model for other chief ministers in the country," . This praise relates specifically to CM Modi's Kanya Kelavani Yojana project, to help girl's education in the state of Gujarat.

In July 2010, Iyer supported a campaign to introduce Islamic banking and finance into India. "I welcome Islamic finance in India, Islamic finance has proven successful in poverty alleviation and promoting sustainable growth in many countries, including the United States, and it is very relevant in our country where 20 million people are starving," Iyer said.

In 2002, Iyer was part of the citizen's panel formed to investigate the Gujarat riots
2002 Gujarat violence
The 2002 Gujarat violence describes the Godhra train burning and resulting communal riots between Hindus and Muslims. On 27 February 2002 at Godhra City in the state of Gujarat, the Sabarmati Express train was attacked by a large Muslim mob in a conspiracy. But some authentic sources deny the claim...

 along with retired justices RB Sawant and others. In August 2011, Iyer addressed the CM of Gujarat as "my dear venerable Modi". "I hold you high as chief minister and as a model for other chief ministers in the country," .

In June 2008 Iyer was among several leading jurists and civil rights activist who signed an open letter urging Iran to abide by international human rights conventions and release the detainees immediately of the leadership of the Bahá'í Faith in Iran. See Arrest of Bahá'í leaders.


There are around 70 published books by V. R. Krishna Iyer which includes four travelogues. Wandering in Many Worlds ( ISBN 978-81-317-1835-3 ) is the autobiography of V.R. Krishna Iyer. There are five published books by other authors about him.

Name of the book Year Name of Publisher
Law and the People 1972 Peoples Publishing House, Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi.
Law, Freedom and Change 1975 Affiliated East West Press Pvt. Ltd., 5, General Patters Road, Madras
Law India, Some Contemporary Challenges 1976 University College of Law, Nagpur.
Jurisprudence and Juris-Conscience à la Gandhi 1976 Gandhi Peace Foundation, 221/3-Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi-2
Social Mission of Law 1976 Orient Longmans Ltd., 160, Anna Salai, Madras-2
Law & Social Change and Indian Overview 1978 Publication Bureau, Punjab University, Chandigarh
Social Justice and the Handicapped Humans 1978 The Academy of Legal Publications, Punnan Road, Trivandrum-695001
The Integral Yoga of Public Law and Development in the Context of India 1979 The Institute of Constitutional & Parliamentary Studies, Vithal Bhai Patel House, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
Of Law & Life 1979 Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 20/4 Industrial Area, Ghaziabad, U.P.

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 December 5, 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 28-02-2000.
  • 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 4.10.2000. 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 12.11.2000. 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.

External references

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