K.G. Kannabiran, one of India’s “leading civil liberties lawyers for the last four decades,” died on December 30, 2010, at age 81. A biographical sketch, from the Hindu:
Born in 1929, Mr. Kannabiran obtained master's degree in Economics and a degree in law from the Madras University before shifting to Hyderabad to set up legal practice in 1961. Since the late 1960s, he began to defend political dissenters that eventually marked the beginning of his over three-decade-long civil liberties and human rights work.
He was the president of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee between 1978 and 1994 and went on to become the national president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
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He was a member of Concerned Citizen's Tribunal that inquired into the Gujarat carnage. Earlier, he was appointed as senior counsel by the CBI in the prosecution of the accused in the Shankar Guha Niyogi murder case in Madhya Pradesh.
During the Emergency, he defended numerous political detainees and appeared in four major conspiracy cases — three of them in Andhra Pradesh — that had been filed to suppress political dissent.
In 1971, he filed a writ petition successfully challenging the Andhra Pradesh Preventive Detention Act, 1970, under which writers, poets and intellectuals had been arrested. [The Hindu]
Many of Kannabiran’s writings are collected in a 2004 book, “The Wages of Impunity: Power, Justice and Human Rights.” His funeral was conducted “quietly” soon after he passed away, as his wife, Vasanth Kannabiran, explained in a guest post on Kafila: