Remembering Justice Krishna Iyer
A facebook post I had written on December 4, 2014, after Iyer’s passing away.
The tears and eulogies have started flowing for V.R.Krishna Iyer, and rightly so, for the humaneness with which he carried off his duties in his legal career. Well, almost. The blots which are so easily wiped off, need to be talked about, for in his case the one particular blot has grown into a black hole engulfing the nation, in these intervening years.
Back in 2002, after the Gujarat mass murders, a senior minister of the Modi cabinet had deposed before the Concerned Citizens Tribunal headed by Justice Krishna Iyer. He spoke at length about the meeting of top police officials called by Modi at his residence on the night of February 27, a day before the Hindutva mobs were let loose.
<Quoting from an outlook article of 2002>
“He revealed that on the night of February 27, Modi summoned DGP K. Chakravarthy, commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, P.C. Pande, chief secretary G. Subarao, home secretary Ashok Narayan, secretary to the home department K. Nityanand (a serving police officer of IG rank on deputation) and DGP (IB) G.S. Raigar. Also present were officers from the CM’s office: P.K. Mishra, Anil Mukhim and A.K. Sharma.
The minister told the tribunal that in the two-hour meeting, Modi made it clear there would be justice for Godhra the next day, during the VHP-called bandh. He ordered that the police should not come in the way of “the Hindu backlash”. At one point in this briefing, according to the minister’s statement to the tribunal, DGP Chakravarthy vehemently protested. But he was harshly told by Modi to shut up and obey. Commissioner Pande, says the minister, would later show remorse in private but at that meeting didn’t have the guts to object.
According to the deposition, it was a typical Modi meeting: more orders than discussion. By the end of it, the CM ensured that his top officials — especially the police — would stay out of the way of Sangh parivar men. The word was passed on to the mobs.
The minister further told the tribunal that two cabinet ministers were present in the police control room on February 28. They took over the control room and personally supervised the proceedings.”
The Minister was later revealed to be Haren Pandya, Home Minister in the Modi cabinet. Pandya, in a cabinet meeting, had also opposed the bringing of the bodies of the victims of Godhra carnage to Ahmedabad because that would arouse passion. He was the only person able to arrange meetings between Victim’s family members and Muslim leaders for Peace talks, but he was shouted down at the meeting by some ministers. Haren Pandya was conveniently bumped off by you-know-who. He was murdered during a morning walk.
Now, the Concerned Citizens Tribunal headed by Justice Krishna Iyer soon came out with a strong indictment of the Gujarat Government and the Chief Minister Modi. Nothing much happened out of it though. But, a decade later, we heard the same Krishna Iyer, who had heard first-hand accounts of the gruesome planned killings of the Hindtuva mob, singing praises of Modi and even welcoming him to his house in Kochi.
Many have attributed that action to senility. But, his pronouncements in other matters of importance were proof that, this was far from the case. He had happily played his part in conferring legitimacy upon a man who was close to getting framed. For that blot alone, and a few others including his ruling in 1975 which allowed Indira Gandhi to continue as Prime Minister and unleash the emergency, there should be e few tears less shed for Justice Krishna Iyer.
As some one in my time line remarked, Justice Krishna Iyer died long back. Rest in Peace V.R.Krishna Iyer.