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Jurist faces a ‘cross examination’

Staff reporter

— Photo: Vipin Chandran

FIELDING QUESTIONS: Former judge of the Supreme Court V.R. Krishna Iyer at an interaction with schoolchildren in the city on Friday.

KOCHI: Former judge of the Supreme Court V. R. Krishna Iyer may have witnessed many a cross examination over which he sat in judgment during his illustrious career as a jurist. On Friday, he had to face cross examination of a different kind. Only this time, the roles were reversed. He fielded questions and the young audience before him played the judge.

Participants at the 20th P.T. Bhaskara Panicker Memorial Science Fest held at the Subhash Chandra Bose Park had among them the nonagenarian jurist, who confessed that the young companions turned him into a five-year-old. Sonia, a student from a city school, set the tone of the interaction. How could the courts frequently deride rulers for inefficiency without being self-critical of the inordinate delay in dispensing justice? Mr. Iyer thanked his young questioner, for it was a concern he shared with her. Equally discomforting was the exorbitant fee charged by lawyers, making it difficult for ordinary people to seek legal redress. Mr. Iyer volunteered to submit a resolution, if one was passed by the children reflecting their concerns on the issue, to the Chief Justice of India who was scheduled to visit the city shortly.

Another student wanted to know whether the jurist had ever passed a judgment which he later realised was a mistake. “To err is human,” Mr. Iyer said admitting that there indeed had been such occasions. But, whenever he realised his folly he had corrected it, engaged in severe self-criticism and passed a fresh order, he said.

When Anju Vijayan, a student from Bhagavathy Vilasam School, Nayarambalam, aired her concern over the precarious condition of the Mullaperiyar dam and the dillydallying of the rulers in handling the issue, Mr. Iyer said if there was any doubt about the safety of the dam a new one should be constructed in its place irrespective of what governments on either side say.

Krishnapriya of the Government Girls High School wanted to know why many voters in her locality boycotted the recently held by-poll. Mr. Iyer said that elections had become a big business contested by only the rich capable of buying votes and who sever all links with the people once elections were over. When Roy Varghese, a student of St. Joseph’s School, raised the issue of constructions proposed in the ecologically fragile Mangalavanam, the environmental activist in Mr. Iyer came to the fore. Any such move would be “treason” and not development, he said and urged the children to take out a protest march in which he would join.

Finally, what would he have done were he to become the Chief Minister? That question doesn’t arise in the first place, Mr. Iyer said. But, if given the chance, he had no doubt that he would have brought about revolutionary reforms. “For one, I would not have been like VS (Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan,” he signed off.

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