ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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V R Krishna Iyer: A Long Life in Law and Politics

I was 12 when I first heard of Krishna Iyer. It was a steamy Madras morning in July 1987. That day’s Indian Express announced that the retired judge would be the Opposition’s presidential candidate. He was to face R Venkataraman, the Congress (I) nominee. All of us knew who Venkataraman was. As the incumbent vice-president, he was a familiar face. But I had never heard of Krishna Iyer. “Who is he?” I asked my father who was shaving. “Oh, a communist”, he replied. What a disaster, I thought to myself, if he became president. With relief, I watched Venkataraman declared elected on television.

I next encountered Iyer in law school. He was constantly mentioned in class after class. Some professors believed he was the world’s greatest judge. But others were rather negative. “Don’t get carried away by his flowery language”, one lecturer warned me. Another recommended H M Seervai’s polemical criticism.1 These fleeting assessments did not make me a big fan. Until, one day, I met the judge himself.

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