K. Chandru is a former Indian judge of Madras High Court who was appointed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in 2009. He is best known for giving the verdicts of 96000 cases in six and half years at Madras High Court. He is also known for handling the case of a couple who belonged to the Irula tribal community in Tamil Nadu in which the husband was murdered in police custody by the police officials in 1993. In 2021, a Tamil movie titled Jai Bhim was picturised based on this case, won by K. Chandru.
K. Chandru was born on Tuesday, 8 May 1951 (age 70 years; as of 2021) in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. His zodiac sign is Taurus. K. Chandru completed two years of his graduation from Loyola College, Chennai, and his third year from Madras Christian College, Tamil Nadu. In 1973, he started pursuing Law studies.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: Grey (Dyed with Henna)
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
The names of his parents are not known.
Wife & Children
He got married in 1990. The name of his wife is not known. She is a retired college lecturer. The couple has a daughter.
K. Chandru started participating in the official works of the Communist Party of India when he was pursuing his graduation at Loyola College. He joined the party as a student activist. Soon after joining the CPI(M), he constituted a commission that was set up after the commission inquiry was ordered by the DMK Chief M. Karunanidhi for investigating the death of a student from Anna University who was killed in a lathi charge by the police following a local student’s agitation. K. Chandru was expelled from Loyola College after his involvement in the agitations when he was in his second year of graduation. Soon, he joined Madras Christian College to complete the third year of his graduation. K. Chandru served the CPI(M) party as a full-time worker by providing community services after finishing his college studies. K. Chandru opted for law studies in 1973, and at college, he was denied hostel facilities by the college authorities as he was involved in student politics. However, he got the seat when he protested for the accommodation in front of the college authorities by sitting on an indefinite fast. After completing his law degree, he practised as a lawyer in a law company named Row & Reddy for consecutive eight years. During that time (1975-1977), an emergency was declared in India, which led to the deprivation of several basic constitutional rights of Indian citizens. According to K. Chandru, he never supports the idea of emergency enshrined in the constitution of India, and in a meeting, he said that this constitution should be thrown in the Bay of Bengal. He narrated this incident in a conversation with a media house. He stated,
In fact in one of the meetings, I said that this Constitution must go and be thrown into the Bay of Bengal. I also quoted a Chattist song that went,
“Hurrah for the masses, lawyers are asses
The judges are going to jail.
The laws are illegal, the commons are regal
The judges are going to jail.”
K. Chandru joined the Bar Association politics of Tamil Nadu where he was chosen as the Executive Member of the Advocates Association soon after leaving his job at the firm Row & Reddy. After joining this association, he was regarded as the youngest member of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu who joined this venture. He was the leader of the lawyer strikes that were organised after the severe lawyer-police clashes happened at the same time outside the Madras High Court. In 1988, he was actively involved in the workings of the CPI(M) party and raised his voice against the interference of Rajiv Gandhi in Sri Lanka over the breaking of the deal with the second president of Sri Lanka named J. R. Jayewardene. K. Chandru was barred from the CPI(M) party workings after his statement against Ranjiv Gandhi. K. Chandru also stopped working as a party lawyer and a trade union lawyer soon after resigning from the CPI(M) party. K. Chandru was promoted as a senior advocate in 1990 by the High Court of Tamil Nadu. K. Chandru mastered both criminal and civil fields of law during his service at Madras High Court. He took the charge of the additional judge of Madras High Court in July 2006 and was promoted as the permanent judge of the court on 9 November 2009. The issues related to labour, service, education, and human rights were considerably attended by K. Chandru. Various cases of prominent Indian universities such as the University Grants Commission (UGC) were also handled by K. Chandru.
Apart from his contribution to society as a lawyer and judge, he is also known for his literary works and has written several columns in various journals and tabloids. In 2021, a book titled ‘Chandru, Justice K. (2021). Listen to My Case!: When Women Approach the Courts of Tamil Nadu’ was written and published by K. Chandru that mentioned the inspiring life instances of twenty women who fought for justice for them. This book gained immense popularity all over India after its publication.
- While working as an advocate in the firm Row & Reddy, K. Chandra travelled all across Tamil Nadu by buses and lorries for two years to improve his knowledge in legal studies, different lifestyles, speech patterns, and caste system prevailing in the region. During the same time, he slept in the houses of the Dalit labourers, trade union leaders, and poor farmers and ate whatever was available to him. According to K. Chandru, these years were the most productive years of his life.
- During his career as an advocate and as a judge, K. Chandru was a well-known man who fought for the justice of several oppressed people of Tamil Nadu. Throughout his career, he was extensively involved in fighting against caste discrimination in Tamil Nadu. He also worked for the rights and laws of backward groups in the area.
- As a judge, K. Chandru advocated for the rights of women in India. In September 2008, a popular judgement was given by Justice K. Chandru in favour of a woman who was not allowed to perform the Hindu rituals and ceremonies at a temple by her cousin brother who considered himself to be the authorised person to conduct the Hindu rites. The woman went to the court for the dispute, and Justice K. Chandru, as a high court judge, stated in his judgement with the logic that if the idols in the temples are feminine, then why there is clamour on the entry of women into these temples and perform rites according to their culture. The Better India He stated,
It is ironic that when the presiding deity of the temple is a Goddess, objections are being raised against a woman in performing poojas in such temples…Neither provision of law nor any scheme prohibits women from performing poojas in the said temple.”
- K. Chandru superannuated from Madras High Court on 8 March 2013. He denied a personal bodyguard during his service as a judge. During the hearings, he asked his lawyers not to call him ‘My Lord’ in the High Court. He also refused a farewell party by his colleagues on his retirement.
- In a conversation with a media reporter, K. Chandru disclosed that he followed Marxist ideology that helped him know the ideologies of B. R. Ambedkar in a better way. He narrated,
My Marxist background helped me understand Ambedkar better.”
- In 2021, a Tamil film was made on the real-life case handled by K. Chandru in 1993. The case was based on the custodial death of a poor snake charmer ‘Rajakannu’ who was arrested by the police officials in a false theft case along with his two brothers. Rajakannu belonged to the Irula tribal community in Tamil Nadu. He was beaten to death by the police as he denied theft blames till his last breath. His dead body was thrown on a road in Kerala by the police. The case was endorsed to the lawyer K. Chandru by the wife of Rajakannu named Parvati who sought justice for her husband who went missing from the jail after being brutally beaten by the police. The police claimed that Rajakannu escaped from police custody. The film was produced by Jyotika-Suriya and was directed by T. J. Gnanavel. The verdict of the case was given after 13 years. The three accused police officials were given 14 years of imprisonment at the end of the case. The whole script of the film was based on the advocacy of K. Chandru, and in the film, he was involved in narrating the story from the beginning till the end.
- After the release of the movie Jai Bhim, K. Chandru explained his experience in an interview with a media reporter after watching the movie Jai Bhim. He discussed,
The first time I saw the film, I was watching like anyone else. Soon, in many of the scenes depicting the lawyer, I recognised some of my mannerisms and noticed actions and dialogues which I might have used earlier. The scenes kept reminding me of my life 30 years ago.”
- K. Chandru declared his personal assets on the first day of his joining as a lawyer at Madras High Court, and he also mentioned his net worth when he left the High Court on his retirement. K. Chandru also surrendered his official car on his superannuation day and boarded a local train to his home.
- As a judge, he settled 96000 cases in six and a half years. In one of his interviews with media houses, he stated that he increased his working hours in the court and read the briefs from the lawyers to announce the verdicts of the cases fast. He said,
I used to go to court 15 minutes before and leave the court one hour after court proceedings were over. I tried to increase the court hours. Further, in admission matters I did not hear lawyers unless I wanted to dismiss the matter. I would read the briefs and if it is a matter that needs to be admitted, than I need not hear the lawyer.”