Late Supreme Court judge Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer was the man who built the “edifice for access to justice” in Indian jurisprudence, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture here, Justice Misra said Justice Iyer was “a judge who believed in the human and the compassionate spirit of the Constitution”.

‘Access to justice’

“We have been told that there has to be access to justice, and Justice Iyer built the edifice of access to justice. Whatever relief Justice Iyer granted to every poor or rich man, it was not [based] on a whim or fancy but based on a foundational principal,” Justice Misra said.

“Apart from referring to the Constitution in his judgments, he also referred to the
. That is the beauty of it. The man was rooted in ancient Indian concepts as well as modern Western concepts…,” the CJI said.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal also gave a lecture on the ‘Role of Judiciary in Protecting Human Rights of the Poor and the Marginalised’ at the event, organised by Sarada-Krishna-Satgamaya Foundation for Law and Justice, Delhi Chapter.

Mr. Venugopal recalled the immense praise Justice Iyer earned not just in India but even in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. “He should be placed among the greatest judges of the world and not just of India,” he remarked.

He said, “As a judge of the apex court, there is hardly a facet of the Constitution that has remained untouched by him.”

“I had appeared before Justice Iyer in 1981 in a case related to promotion of Dalits in government jobs. I was appearing against Dalits and you can take it from me that after what he [Justice Iyer] told me I decided that I will never appear against Dalits in any time in future, though I will appear for them,” Mr. Venugopal said. Justice Iyer said we have to “pay for victimising these Dalits for the last 5,000 years”, Mr. Venugopal said. He added that it was due to apathy of various governments and negligence toward the needs of the poor that courts have had to step in.

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