Kochi: Eminent jurist V R Krishna Iyer, a left-leaning intellectual who had stood for the rights of the downtrodden and reinterpreted bail jurisprudence as a Supreme Court judge, died today.
Justice Iyer, who turned 100 on November 13, breathed his last at a private hospital here following multiple organ failure.
He was admitted to the private Medical Trust hospital on November 24. He died at 3.30 PM, Hospital Managing Director P V Antony and Cardiologist Dr Manu R Varma, who treated him, told reporters.
“The death was due to cerebral vascular accident or stroke, worsening cardiac and renal failure and pneumonia,” Dr Manu Varma said.
Justice Iyer, born in a conservative Tamil Brahmin family in Palakad in Kerala, was attracted to communism and had served as a minister in the first democratically-elected Communist government of the world under the late EMS Namboodiripad in the state.
During his tenure as law minister, land reforms were introduced in the 1950s. As a Supreme Court Judge for seven years in the 1970s, he provided easy access to the ordinary people by relaxing the rule of locus standi.
He defined bail jurisprudence in favour of undertrials when he laid down that “bail, not jail is the rule” and was averse to preventive detentions as a general rule.
In 1975, he had put a conditional stay on the Allahabad High Court judgement that unseated Indira Gandhi as MP from Rae Bareli but it was another story that the High Court judgement led to events that culminated in the imposition of Emergency.
Eyebrows were raised when he praised Narendra Modi after he was named the Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP last year. Earlier, he was critical of him on 2002 riots.
Modi today expressed his condolences on Iyer’s death.
“My association with Justice Krishna Iyer was special. My mind goes back to our conversations & the insightful letters he would write to me,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
Justice Iyer was hospitalised due to over exertion with decreased appetite, respiratory tract infection and cardiac problem. On December 2, he suffered stroke and his left side was paralysed and there was steady downhill in his condition, culminating in his death, Dr Varma said.
He is survived by two sons. His wife had predeceased him. At the time of his death, his son Parameshwaran and daughter -in-law were by his side.
Dr Varma said until yesterday, Iyer was responding to verbal commands and from this morning, he lost consciousness.
Justice Iyer’s body will be taken to his residence ‘Satgamaya’ from the hospital later this evening.
The body will be shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor stadium at Kadavanthara tomorrow to enable the public to pay their homage. Funeral will be held at 6 PM.