Former Supreme Court Judge, A R Lakshmanan dead

Justice Lakshmanan's body was taken to his native Devakottai in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu and cremated there.

Chennai: Justice A R Lakshmanan, former Judge of the Supreme Court, who banned smoking in public places and issued a telephonic order to permit a student to write a university exam, has died following a heart attack.

He was 78 and he died at a hospital in Tiruchirappalli yesterday at 11.30 pm, his family said on Thursday. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

“He suffered a heart attack at 11 am on Wednesday and he was rushed to a hospital in Karaikudi where he was stabilised and then admitted to a hospital in Tiruchirappalli where he collapsed before a procedure could be done,” Lakshmanan’s son, AR L Sundaresan, a designated senior advocate, told PTI.

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Justice Lakshmanan’s body was taken to his native Devakottai in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu and cremated there.

He was the former chairman of the Law Commission of India.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK president M K Stalin, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and PMK founder- leader S Ramadoss are among those who condoled the death.

When Justice Lakshmanan was Acting Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, a Division Bench, comprising him and Justice K Narayana Kurup, banned smoking in public places in 1999.

“Public smoking of tobacco in any form whether in the form of cigarettes, cigars, beedies or otherwise is illegal, unconstitutional and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the judgment, delivered over two decades ago said.

Years after the verdict, The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COPTA), was enacted in 2003 by the Centre, which, among other things, prohibited smoking in public places.

When he was a judge of the Madras High Court, he had issued a telephonic order to permit a student to write a university exam.

He permitted “gold cover” for the Sabarimala temple and had ordered that anyone who donates elephant to temples should create a cash endowment for the pachyderm’s care.

During his stint as chairman of the Law Commission of India, he favoured an amendment to relevant laws for equal rights to women in property and recommended setting up a bench of the Supreme Court in south India.

He had been a member, representing Tamil Nadu, in the Supreme Court-appointed empowered committee on Mullaperiyar dam.

Justice Lakshmanan Arunachalam’s death comes two days after the death of his wife Meenakshi Aachi who passed away on August 24.

Born on March 22, 1942, he graduated from the Madras Law College and enrolled as an advocate in 1968 and practised in the Madras High Court.

He had served as a government pleader, Tamil Nadu government and had also been a standing counsel to banks before elevation as permanent Judge of the Madras High Court on June 14, 1990.

Transferred to the Kerala High Court in 1997, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court in 2000 and later served as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001.

Appointed Judge of the Supreme Court on December 20, 2002, he retired on March 22, 2007.

Post-retirement, he was chairman of the Law Commission (18th Law Commission).

A prolific reader, he has authored several books in Tamil and English including ‘Neethiyin Kural (The voice of justice) and ‘The Judge Speaks,’ a compilation of lectures on various judicial and social issues.

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