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From Data Privacy Law to Bombay Blasts, Meet Ex-Judge Who Has Been a Favourite of Govts for 26 Yrs

It all started in 1993 when the then recently retired apex court judge was tasked to head a commission of inquiry under Justice B N Srikrishna and look into the causes of the riots that engulfed Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:July 30, 2018, 3:55 PM IST
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From Data Privacy Law to Bombay Blasts, Meet Ex-Judge Who Has Been a Favourite of Govts for 26 Yrs
File photo of Justice (Rtd) B N Srikrishna (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: When Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad appointed an expert group headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna to draft a data protection law, it was thought to be an attempt by the government to allay all doubts which arose as the apex court heads a batch of cases challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.

But is it one of the firsts that a former Supreme Court judge has become the go-to man for governments belonging to different political parties for close to 26 years?

It all started in 1993 when the then recently retired apex court judge was tasked to head a commission of inquiry under Justice B N Srikrishna and look into the causes of the riots that engulfed Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993. The commission had to also find out if any group of individuals or organisation was responsible for the riots.

The then 51-year-old Justice Srikrishna started examining evidences when in 1995 the terms of reference were expanded by the subsequent Shiv Sena-BJP government to include investigation into the cause of the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, too.

But then again in 1996, the commission headed by the former judge was disbanded by the Sena-BJP government on the ground that it had exceeded the given time for the report and that the report would only bring back painful memories. However, this did not last long and in 1996, the commission was re-constituted after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wrote to the state government asking for the commission to be set up again.

Now after more than two decades, Justice Srikrishna is still going strong as the primary choice of heading panel and commissions of importance.

In 2017, the Srikrishna Committee was tasked by the government with studying issues around data security and individual privacy. The committee is to recommend a framework for securing personal data in India's increasingly digitised economy, for addressing privacy concerns, and for building safeguards against data breaches.

Apart from the BJP and Congress governments, in 2010, the former Supreme Court judge was also at the forefront of choice in the then newly formed state of Telangana after N Chandrabhabu Naidu-led government after Justice Srikrishna was selected to head Committee for Consultations on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh (CCSAP), a committee to look into the demand for separate statehood for Telangana or keep the State united in the present form, Andhra Pradesh.

The committee had visited all the regions of state extensively and invited people from all sections of the society to give their opinion on the statehood. It received over one lakh petitions and representations from political parties, organisations, NGOs and individuals.

It also held consultations with political parties and general public and took into account the impact of recent developments on different sections of people such as women, children, students, minorities, Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The report was released to the public on the internet on 6 January 2011.

Justice Srikrishna even headed the one-man commission to inquire about the 19 February, 2009 Madras High Court incident where members of the bar went into an indefinite boycott of the courts alleging that the Government was not taking any action to stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

In his report Justice B N Srikrishna though found police excess, observed that the "circumstances facing the police on the fateful day justified use of force by the police".

Now apart from heading the panel to draft the data protection law for the country, the former judge has again been appointed by the BJP-led government to carry out an independent investigation against ICICI Bank Ltd. Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar.

Though the former judge is interested in refugee law and human rights issues, he commands equal expertise in technology and finance related aspects.
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