( December 8, 2014, Kerala, Sri Lanka Guardian) Noted Jurist V R Krishna Iyer, who championed the cause of the downtrodden throughout his life, was today cremated with full state honours after a galaxy of politicians led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and those from the legal fraternity paying their last respects.
After the customary gun salute by police, Justice Iyer's two sons Ramesh Iyer and Paramesh Iyer performed last rites amidst chanting of vedic hymns. The body was then shifted to the LPG fired crematorium for the final journey. Justice Iyer passed away at a private hospital in Kochi on Thursday.
Earlier Chandy, his ministerial colleagues K M Mani, K Babu, K P Mohanan, opposition leader in the assembly V S Achutanandan, CPI state secretary Panniyan Ravindran, Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church Cardinal George Mar Alenchery were among the thousands of mourners who paid their respects. The body was kept at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium from around 9.30 am to 4.30 pm to enable public to pay homage.
Twenty-five visually challenged students of a blind school from nearby Aluva along with their teachers also came to bid adieu to Iyer. Arbutammal, mother of Perarivalan, an accused in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, was also in Kochi to pay her respects. Justice Iyer's body was then was shifted to his residence, 'Satgamaya' to enable the family members to perform various rites.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh also attended the funeral. Earlier Kerala assembly had adjourned for the day today after condoling justice Iyer's death. Kerala High Court did not function as a mark of respect. Schools and government offices in Kochi corporation limits also declared a holiday on Friday.
Meanwhile, the statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission reads as follows;
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) joins millions of Asians and others across the globe to mourn the sad demise of Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer. Aged 100, Justice Krishna Iyer passed away today at a hospital in Kerala, India. He was a member of AHRC's advisory group and was an active participant in AHRC's work in Asia, particularly concerning Sri Lanka, India, and China.
Popularly known as the Chief Justice of the people's court of India, Justice Krishna Iyer was one of the finest jurists of our times. He retired from the Supreme Court of India after having served the country during some of its most difficult times. Justice Krishna Iyer served at the Supreme Court from 1973 to 1980; this coincided with some of India’s darkest days, i.e. the emergency under the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
While India and jurists across the globe have benefited from Justice Krishna Iyer's legal acumen, perhaps it is the people of the Indian state of Kerala that have most benefited from his legal luminance. Justice Krishna Iyer played a leading role in the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, a law that permanently redefined Kerala's social and political landscape, ending feudalism in the state.
As a jurist, Justice Krishna Iyer played an important role in developing India's constitutional jurisprudence, particularly in terms of defining the power of the President's office. This prevented India from adopting executive presidency at a time when most countries in Asia shifted from a parliamentary form of governance to presidential rule, and the executive powers of presidents led to dictatorships.
As a judge, Justice Krishna Iyer was a people's judge. He had the wisdom and foresight to ensure that even prisoners were allowed to exercise their fundamental rights, given that it is the state's responsibility to protect these rights. Justice Krishna Iyer liberally interpreted the Constitution, expanding the horizon of the fundamental rights, particularly the right to life and freedom of movement, thereby redefining the Indian state's responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens.
As a judge, Justice Krishna Iyer played a vital role in saving the Indian Judiciary from political and executive interference; this interference had been so firmly established that many judges who served at the Supreme Court, despite their said integrity, could not diminish. This has made the Indian Judiciary exceptional in Asia, along with a three other jurisdictions: Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan.
Justice Krishna Iyer will be missed in the perilous times that lie ahead for India and the region.