Fifty years of public life, four decades of professional life and thirty-five years teaching law, Prof. Ravivarma Kumar has emerged as a front ranking profounder and propagator of social justice (affirmative action) policies in India. Popular for expounding the Constitution, socialist, thinker and crusader, Prof. Ravivarma Kumar is presently the Advocate-General for Karnataka.
Starting his legal profession as a High Court Advocate in Karnataka in 1975, he has conducted thousands of cases in all important constitutional issues in several High Courts in the Country as also in the Supreme Court of India. Championing the cause of the have-nots in general, the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes in particular, Prof. Ravivarma Kumar has conducted nearly forty thousand cases on behalf of the said people. Professionally, he has specialized in the field of Constitutional Law, Social Justice, Affirmative Action, Reservation Policies, Human Rights, Public Interest Litigation, Election Law, Service Law and Law on Education. He has also been at the forefront of the legal battle to secure fifty percent reservation in favour of women in Political Institutions particularly the Local Bodies. He has championed the causes of landless labourers and tenants and has conducted over fifteen thousand cases on behalf of tenants to secure ownership on principle of land to the tiller policy under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. Likewise, he has conducted thousands of PTCL cases to restore lands to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from those who have knocked of the said lands after the grant made in favour of SC and ST landless persons.
Prof. Kumar has taught Constitutional and Administrative Law in the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Bangalore University and Social Legal Services in Research Centre, College of Law, Bangalore. As a teacher, he initiated the concept of legal literacy and conducted massive legal literacy programmes amongst students, dalits, adivasis and farmers.
Prof. Kumar has acted as Standing Counsel for Karnataka Lokayukta when Justice N. Santhosh Hegde and Justice N. Venkatachala were Lokayuktas in Karnataka. He has conducted the entire litigation against corrupt officials and other public servants without charging any professional fee when appearing for Lokayukta.
Prof. Kumar at the forefront of the agitation in enabling the Government of India to reach a decision to conduct caste-wise census throughout the Country. According to him, caste-wise census alone will throw up important empirical data to identify Backward Classes on scientific criteria and a fool-proof methodology. Prof. Kumar as a National Trustee of Lawyers Forum for Social Justice, has launched a nationwide agitation to constitute a National Judicial Commission for selection and appointment of Judges to the Constitutional Courts in India and also to improve the representation, if not provide reservation to enhance the representation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes in the higher judiciary.
Prof. Kumar has served with distinction as the Founder Chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes. He presented as many as 85 Reports to the Government on all important issues related to Backward Classes. Major recommendations of Prof. Kumar include:
- Reservation in private sector.
- Reservation for couples and children of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
- To provide a minimum of 50% reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes among Hindus, in addition to proportionate reservation for Backward Classes among religious minorities.
- A unique creamy layer policy to enable the selection of most talented candidates from each caste or tribe.
- Reservation through legislation to be placed in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
- Caste enumeration in census
- Dismantle apartheid in India and de-segregate the exclusive ethnic habitats in over thirty thousand hamlets in Karnataka.
- Provide effective training to professionally equipped law graduates from Backward Classes
- To compensate for the loss of traditional occupations of Backward Castes due to the impact of modernization, globalization and economic liberalization.
- Provide proportionate stocks and shares to an extent of fifty percent in all public sector undertakings on their privatization.
- Reservation in favour of SC, ST and OBCs in all licences, opportunities, nominations and appointments in the areas covered by the legislative fields in the State List, Constitution of India.
- Revision of the Lists of Backward Classes
In the year 1991, soon after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, the African National Congress invited Prof. Ravivarma Kumar to South Africa to evolve the affirmative action policies to be incorporated in the New Constitution of South Africa. He along with his good and noble Senior late Shri L.G. Havanur constituted the only Constitutional Experts from South Asia to participate in the said conference. Shri L.G. Havanur presided over the said conference. Prof. Kumar was also invited by Amnesty International, Chile to evolve the legal principles on which Heads of State, who violate human rights, may be prosecuted anywhere in the World. The allegations against Mr. Augusto Pinochet and Mr. Slobodan Milosevic of gross human rights violations as Heads of State, had necessitated this international exercise to prevent recurrence of the same elsewhere. In the year 2003, he was also invited by the World Farmers Organization, La via Compensina to prepare the Charter of Farmers’ Human Rights to be submitted to the United Nations to be published on the lines of Universal declaration of Human Rights.
For effective implementation of the policies of Gandhi, Lohia and Ambedkar, he started Dr. Ramamanohar Lohia Samata Vidyalaya in the year 1981 at Channapatna, Bengaluru District and later at Sira, Tumkur District and has been at the forefront of progressive movement throughout Karnataka for the last 40 years. He worked in close association with Shri V.P. Singh, Shri Kishen Patnayak, Prof. N.D. Nanjundaswamy, Shri L.G. Havanur, Shri Poornachandra Tejaswini, Prof. K. Ramadas, Dr. Rajeev Tharanath and Shri P. Lankesh. Even before it became a constitutional mandate, Prof. Kumar was spearheading against superstition to develop a spirit of enquiry and scientific temper among the people of Karnataka. In this behalf, he was associated with late Periyar Ramaswamy and Abraham Kovoor, Gopa Ramachandra Raju and Dr. N. Veeramani. In the year 2009, he was also awarded the Periyar International Award for his lifetime contribution in the spread of rationalism and working against superstition. Some of the Awards conferred on Prof. Ravivarma Kumar including the following:
- The Honorary Doctorate Degree conferred by the “Tumkur University” in the year 2009.
- Rajashri Nalvadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar Award 2009, awarded by Kannada Sahithya Parishad, Bangalore District in the year 2009.
- K .Veeramani social justice award given by Periyar International, Chicago, U S A., in the year 2009.
- The best legal service award 2008 along with Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah, former Chief Justice of India, Award given by “Essel Group” & “Zee TV Channel” in the year 2008.
- “Efficient Advocate” award given by Sri Murugarajendra Bruhanmatt, Chitradurga in the year 1996.
The important constitutional cases in which Prof. Kumar has argued in the Supreme Court as well as in the High Court of Karnataka are as follows:
- Before the Supreme Court:
- 1. Demanding Caste Census in 2011 census Dr. Ramdass, P.M.K V/s Union of India (2009)
- 2. In defence of 27% Reservation provided to The Other Backward Classes in Central Educational Institutions (Ashok Kumar Thakur Vs Union of India)(2008)(6)SCC1
- 3. Reservations for SCs/STs in matters of Promotion – Arts 16(4-A) & (4-B) (M. Nagaraj V/s Union of India) (2006) (8) SCC 212
- Mandal Case on reservation for Backward Classes, 1992 Indra Sawhney V/s Union of India AIR 1993 SC 477.
- In defence of Havanur report on Backward Classes 1979. S.C. Somasekharappa V/s State, ILR 1979 Kar. 1496 Confirmed by the Supreme Court in K.C.Vasantha Kumar V/s State AIR 1985 SC 1495
- Admission to Medical Colleges, Medical Council of India V/s S.J.M. Vidyapeetha (2004)
- The reputation of late Shri Shantaveri Gopala Gowda and against the screening of The film AVASTHE in an appeal arising from the decision of the High Court in Sonakka V/s U.R.Anantha Murthy, AIR 1988 Kar. 255.
- Karnataka High Court:
- Preservation of Nagarhole National Forest Preventing the construction of a star hotel 1996. Gateway Hotels V/s Nagarahole Budakattu Sthapana Samithi, 1999 (5) Kar.L.J 63(DB).
- Quo warranto against a Chief Minister A.K.Subbaiah V/s Ramakrishna Hegde ILR 1988 Kar 227
- Arrack Bottling Case-II
- Constitutional validity of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 K.M.Shankarappa V/s Union of India, ILR 1990 Kar. 4082
- A.K.Subbaiah V/s Garudachar, ILR 1987 Kar. 101
- In defence of the Karnataka Civil Services (Special Recruitment of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes Candidates to Certain Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’ posts) Rules, 1985.
- Medical and Dental Post Graduate Courses Admissions (2004).
Prof. Kumar also participated in the most important Judicial Commissions of Enquiry in the State of Karnataka. The said Commissions include
- Justice R.G.Desai Commission on Bangalore Hooch Tragedy, 1981.
- Justice Shah Commission of Enquiry Authority, 1977 (Emergency Excesses).
- Justice K.S.Puttaswamy Commission on M.D.Seat Scandal, 1985-1990.
- Justice N.D.Venkatesh Commission on Cauvery Riots, 1993.
Prof. Kumar has attended several International and National Conferences as detailed below.
- 1991 : Invited to attend a conference on Affirmative Action in New South Africa held @ Port Elizabeth S.A. hosted by the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress and University of Cape.
- 2001 : Invited by the National Human Rights Commission to present a paper on “Caste, Race and the Constitution” at National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
- 2001 : Only invitee from Asia to attend an International Round Table Conference on Human Rights at Santiago-de-Chile Convened by the Amnesty International, Chile and Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, Paris, to deliberate on the Prosecution of Heads of State, General Augusto Pinochet and President Slobodon Milosovich.
- 2003 : National Seminar on Affirmative Action in Private Sector Hosted jointly by the National Law School of India University and Sri. Devaraj Urs Research Institute
- 2003 : Visited the University of Michigan, University of California, University of Alabama in USA and the Oxford University, UK to interact on the Affirmative Action Programmers.
- 2003 : Visited the US Supreme Court in Washington D. C., U. S. A, the House of Lords and House of Commons in UK.
- 2008 : Invited to attend a Conference on: “Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India, The United States and South Africa” on 19.03.2008 to 21.03.2008 at New Delhi
Presented a paper “The Future of Reservations in Higher Education”.
- December 2008: Elected as South Asia Representative to the La via Compesina Working Committee on Human Rights and attended the meeting of the said committee at Bilbo, Spain
- December’ 13-18, 2008 : Visited Italy and held a dialogue with Prof. Valerian Onida at University of Milano. Prof. Onida served as a Member and later as President of the Constitutional Court of Italy. After his retirement he has become a Human Rights Activist and is also a visiting faculty at the University. Studied the legal system and visited the various courts in Italy.
Prof. Kumar is born to Late Sri N.S. Kengaramaiah (High School Head Master) and Smt. Puttarangamma on September 9, 1951 at Sira, Karnataka.