Retired justice Chandrashekhar Shankar Dharmadhikari, who delivered a landmark verdict during the Emergency on human rights, died here on Thursday at a private hospital following a brief illness.

Justice Dharmadhikari, 91, was also an eminent Gandhian, freedom-fighter, legal luminary and social activist. He is survived by his medico daughter Aruna Patil and two sons — Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari of Bombay High Court and lawyer Ashutosh — family sources said.

Born in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh, his last rites shall be performed at the Ambazari Ghat crematorium later on Thursday.

A recipient of many awards, including Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, Justice Dharmadhikari was appointed a judge in Bombay High Court in July 1972. He served as Acting Chief Justice here, and retired in November 1989.

In his landmark ruling during the Emergency, Justice Dharmadhikari had held that apart from constitutional rights, the Right to Life is natural and a human right, and therefore, even during the Emergency, a citizen could approach the high court.

Accordingly, he entertained petitions and ordered the release of those against whom there was no material (evidence).

Post-retirement, he was the Chairman of Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (1991-1992) and later a committee headed by him in 2014 had recommended a complete ban on dance bars in hotels/restaurants and ‘curbs on social media’ since they had a ‘corrupting influence’, in order to reduce crimes against women.

Hailing from a family of staunch Gandhians who are largely into the legal profession, Justice Dharmadhikari also served as Chairman of Educational Regulatory Authority, on the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission and National Commission for Women, besides penning books in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.