Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer – Quotes

Whenever fundamental rights are flouted or legislative protection ignored, to any prisoner’s prejudice, this Court’s writ will run, breaking through the stone walls and iron bars, to right the wrong and restore the rule of law. Then the parrot cry of discipline will not deter, of security will not scare, of discretion will not dissuade, the judicial process.”

Law is not a trade, not briefs, not merchandise, and so the heaven of commercial competition should not vulgarize the legal profession.”

Litigants are legal patients suffering from injustices seeking healing for their wounds. Would you tell a sufferer in hospital that because he disclosed a certain symptom very late therefore he would be discharged without treatment for the sin of delayed disclosure?”

“Courts should use their processes to the purpose of advancing justice, not to harass parties.”

In short while public interest litigation cannot run riot with aberrant objectives and oblique motivations, the just access of public spirited people to the court as a salvationary functionary with rare power but as a sentinel on the qui vive ever on its guards cannot be extinguished out of obdurate obscurantism.”

“Judges must never forget that every law has a social purpose and engineering process without appreciating which justice to the law cannot be done.”

“Law is meant to serve the living and does not beat its abstract wings in the jural void. Its functional fulfilment as social engineering depends on its sensitized response to situation, subject-matter and the complex of realities which require ordered control. A holistic understanding is simple justice to the meaning of all legislations. Fragmentary grasp of rules can misfire or even backfire.”

“Mechanisation to a considerable extent must make entry into the court system. Microphone, Tape-recorders, Dictaphone, Xeroxing Machines, Calculators, computers, Electrical Screens, Micro-Films and a whole array of other gadgets will economise and maximize. Watch any modern business administration and the way high executives and decision-makers function, and it is easy to realize that the fossilized process of the court system can be discarded and new technology introduced which will quicken the pace and streamline the assembly line operation of the case flow.”

“Procedural law is not to be a tyrant but a servant, not an obstruction but an aid to justice. Procedural prescriptions are not the handmaid and not the mistress, a lubricant, not a resistant in the administration of justice. Where the non-compliance, though procedural, will thwart fair hearing or prejudice doing of justice to parties, the rule is mandatory. But, grammar apart, if the breach can be corrected without injury to a just disposal of the case, the court should not enthrone a regulatory requirement into a dominant desideratum. After all, courts are to do justice, not to wreck this end product on technicalities.”

“One great enemy of good cricket now is the modern pathology of commercialization . Money dominates the game, every aspect of the game, the speed of the ball, the fall of the wicket. This noble game has diminished to the purchase level of lucre politics. Players are becoming millionaires. The best cricketer is the best artist, rich painter. The best bowler is the most creative, lucrative cricketer. He is a great killer and the best batsman is at his best as thriller, beats all speculators and gamblers, and he is the true sportsman who amazes your sharpest guess.”

I have heard Shree Rajneesh and have been inspired by his talks. His works are sublimne and seek to liberate the soul of humans. Indeed his presentation is unique, his goal is great and his success in liberating each person from the mafia surrounding the soul is rewarding reading. The message that he had to deliver must reach everywhere. Ultimately salvation comes when one attains freedom from oneself. That, I believe, is the consummation which exposure to Osho may help.”

Our legal system, including the police, is anti-Dalit and anti-poor. The death penalty laws’ wrathful majesty, in blood-shot equality, deals the fatal blow on the poor not the rich, the pariah not the brahmin, the black not the white, the underdog not the top dog, the dissenter not the conformist. . . The law barks at all but bites only the poor, the powerless, the illiterate, the ignorant.”

The Court should be guided not by `Maxwell’ but `Gandhi’ who advocated protection of the interest of the weaker sections of the society as the prime concern in democratic society. In the legal field, the Court has always derived guidance from the immortal saying of the great judge Oliver W. Holmes that `the life of law has never been logic, it has been experience.’ The spirit of law is not to be searched in any ideology or philosophy which might have inspired it but it may be found in the experience of the people who made and put it into practice.”

“Procedural safeguards are the indispensable essence of liberty. In fact, the history of personal liberty is largely the history of procedural safeguards and right to a hearing has a human-right ring. In India, because of poverty and illiteracy, the people are unable to protect and defend their rights; observance of fundamental rights is not regarded as good politics and their transgression as bad politics.”

Courts are guardians of human rights. The common man looks upon the trial court as the protector. The poor and the illiterate, who have hardly the capability to defend themselves, are nevertheless not ‘non-persons’, the trial judges must remember.”

“No principle of jurisprudence permits a huge crime to be settled by the Government without the knowledge of the victims under the pretense parent partraiae. If the State can corruptly take huge cash and eliminate murder of its citizens our jurisprudence deserves to be disobeyed and goes contra to ancient dharma or modern principles of values which consider life shaken beyond negotiations. Indian life is not so cheap as to be bartered away by diplomatic deals. …. Budha and Gandhi were born in vain if this were the law.”

“Adulteration of food is so dangerous and widespread and has so often led to large human tragedies, sudden or slow, insidious or open, that social defence compels casting of absolute liability on the criminal, even if the particular offence is committed with an unsuspecting means. To take risks, in the name of very gullible dealers or very ignorant distributors, when the consequences may spell disaster on innocent victims, few or many, is legislative lackadaisical conduct, giving the wildest hostage to fortune. So it is that mens rea is excluded and the proof of actus [reum] is often enough. The story of small restauranteurs unwillingly vending milk, as is alleged here, is irrelevant to culpability.”

“Big Agri-business Corporations operate within Third World countries promise, green revolutions, manipulate seeds through genetic control, produce more grain to make their gains, but before long create an agricultural slavery. Pest management through pesticides which are dangerous and fertilizers sold at great price which in the long run destroy the soil cumulatively land up agriculturists in a chemical trap. A myth was created that corporate agri-business is good for the Third World. In truth fertilizers and pesticides dumped on the Third world enter the food chain, wind up in human tissue and produce grave health hazards. In short, using the scarcity scare, India and like countries are victims of the ‘poison business’ promoted by the US and G-7 countries under guise of greater benefits.”

“In matters of economics, sociology and other specialised subjects, courts should not embark upon views of half lit infallibility and reject what economists or social scientists have, after detailed studies, commended as the correct course of action. True, the final word is with the court in constitutional matters but judges hesitate to ‘rush in’ where even specialists ‘fear to tread’. If experts fall out, court, perforce, must guide itself and pronounce upon the matter from the constitutional angle, since the final verdict, where constitutional contraventions are complained of, belongs to the judicial arm.”

“Natural justice is no unruly horse, no lurking land mine, nor a judicial cure-all. If fairness is shown by the decision-maker to the man proceeded against, the form, features and the fundamentals of such essential processual propriety being conditioned by the facts and circumstances of each situation, no breach of natural justice can be complained of. Unnatural expansion of natural justice, without reference to the administrative realities and other factors of a given case, can be exasperating. We can neither be finical nor fanatical but should be flexible yet firm in this jurisdiction. No man shall be hit below the belt – that is the conscience of the matter.”

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