KOCHI: As per Malayalam calendar, Justice V R Krishna Iyer will be turning 100 on Thursday. From legislating orders in favour of the deprived as the state’s first Law Minister, to giving path-breaking verdicts, voicing casual campaigns, penning 105 books and colossal list of other published works, he played a pivotal role in defining some of the crucial moments.
The city has geared up for the special occasion with a host of programmes that will be attended by dignitaries, including legendary singer Yesudas and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
A group of organisations, including the International Interfaith Dialogue India (IIDI), Kerala Khadi Pracharak Samithy, Kerala Santhi Samithi, Ashraya Charitable Trust and the Vaikom Mohammed Basheer Malayalam Patana Kendram will lead the celebrations. There will be an all-religion prayer at 7 am followed by celebrations at 10.30 am at his residence ‘Sadgamaya’, to be presided over by IIDI president M D Nalappatt.
Singer and IIDA peace ambassador Yesudas will deliver the keynote address. CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan visited Iyer at his residence on Wednesday. Chandy will attend a public meet as part of the celebrations on Sunday.
Express caught up with a few who cherish their memorable moments with the veteran jurist.
What surprised journalist BRP Bhaskar was Krishna Iyer’s commitment to the cause of the poor when he came to inaugurate a seminar on the adivasi issue which he organised in Kozhikode some time ago.
“He and the late Sukumar Azhikode had once issued a statement at the government’s instance which disappointed the tribal people. I was, therefore, keen about his presence.
He wanted me to arrange a person to stand in the queue and buy a ticket for the morning train from Ernakulam.
The person whom I entrusted with the task overslept. Iyer overlooked the lapse, stood in the queue, bought the ticket and came to Kozhikode,” Bhaskar said.
To Krishna Iyer, Excise Minister K Babu was always ‘omnipresent’. Even before he was a minister, Babu was a regular at most of the functions in the city as he is now.
“I liked him calling me omnipresent. One day while I was passing by in my car, I saw him take his evening walk along the Marine Drive. I stopped the car and requested him to join me for a labour union meet I was off to. Much to my surprise he got into the car instantly. I was overwhelmed by his humbleness,” said Babu.
At the meeting, recollects Babu, Iyer took the mike and gave a stunning extempore in which touched upon the different aspects of labour movement history in India. Immediately after the seminar, leaving an awe-struck audience behind, he left the hall to continue his stroll. He is always prepared to inspire people, Babu said.
P Rajeeve MP shares a bond with Iyer right from his formative years. “During my college days, he would call me up in late nights summoning me urgently. Reason? It could be just to discuss a book of Mao,” said Rajeeve.
“One of my most memorable moments is when he came all the way to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister to request for a Metro service for Kochi. He was 98 then. When he reached 7RCR, the then PM Manmohan Singh came out of his room and said “Welcome Rajarshi!” he said.
Only very few like Rajeeve know that Iyer has a soft spot for ice creams.
Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany never escaped the criticism of Iyer who vehemently attacked him a few months ago for the bad roads in the city.
“But at another instance, when I was late for a programme in which we both were guests, he didn’t allow the orginisers to start the event until I arrived. He stood by the point that the first citizen of the city deserves to be treated with respect,” said Chammany.
“He will gracefully respect you, but don’t expect him to stop speaking out his mind.”
One reason why everyone loves Iyer, said M A Baby MLA, is that he had lended support to the needy.
“Once when powerful lobbies of self-financing colleges were against my decision to intoduce an Education Bill in the 2006 LDF Government, Iyer gave me strong support. I wouldn’t forget it,” he said.