Former Supreme Court judge Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer has the honour of changing the face of law and bringing it to the poor and the needy, said Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam here on Sunday at the 99 birthday celebrations of the legal luminary.

Describing Mr. Iyer as a “rare combination of a legislator, an eminent judicial officer and a person who never bent his values under external pressures”, the CJI said he stood out as a “bold trendsetter” and brought law to the rescue of the common man.

Justice Sathasivam said though he has retired, judgments by Justice (retd.) Iyer continue to echo “in the Supreme Court premises” on a daily basis.

Mr. Iyer had voiced his concern for the under-trials by defining bail jurisprudence which meant that “bail, not jail is the rule” and he never supported preventive detentions as a general rule, he said.

“By interpreting Article 21 of the Constitution, his judicial mind contributed to the prison jurisprudence, thereby rendering human shape to the criminal justice system in India. Prisoners are no longer meted out humiliation or face inhuman conditions,” said the CJI.

“Solitary confinement is not a general rule. Prisoners now enjoy rights and remedies to fight prison arbitrariness and assert their human dignity and Justice Iyer has his share of credit to it,” he said.

Highlighting his “splendid contributions”, the CJI said Justice (retd.) Iyer promoted the ideas of free legal aide, public interest litigations and affirmative action. His socially sensitive insight guided his every pronouncement, he added.

Eminent lawyer Harish Salve said: “It is the new jurisprudence and I call it a Krishna Iyerisation of Indian jurisprudence which gave a new identity and a new direction to the apex court.”

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani was conferred the Capital Foundation Life Time Achievement Award on the occasion to recognise his contribution to the criminal justice system and human rights. The Capital Foundation award in the field of constitutional and civil law was also conferred on Mr. Salve.

More In: Delhi