He started his legal practice in 1951 and gradually became the permanent judge of the High Court of Karnataka on 6th November 1975. Thereafter, he was elevated as the judge of the Supreme Court on 5th October 1987. Ultimately, he became the 25th Chief Justice of India on 12th February 1993 in which capacity he served until his retirement on 24th October 1994.
As the Chief Justice of India, he is credited for the linking of the registry to the national computer network, NICNET for easy accessibility. He set up a committee headed by Supreme Court judge S.R.Pandian to formulate a policy to determine various quotas for judicial appointments. He also set up the Justice Verma Committee to develop a code of conduct for judges. He had proposed the introduction of the concept of plea bargaining as prevalent in US Jurisprudence in India.
After his retirement he engrossed himself in his work towards Anti-corruption and Human Rights issues. He served as the chairman of National Human Rights Commission from 1996 to 1998. He was also on the National Commission to Review The Working of the Constitution in 2000. At present, he is serving as the chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute Of Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam.
He has been awarded some of the most prestigious awards in the country such as the Padma vibhushan in 2004.Along with this, in his honour the Pondicherry University awarded him with Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Laws was awarded by Manipal University. He also received honorary doctorate from Rani Channamma University, Belagavi.
He has been a champion for change and another one of his contributions include his support for the launching of the Initiatives of Change Centre for Indian governance in 2003. He was also on the Advisory Board of the Foundation for Restoration of National Values.
His notable works include, guidelines and reports on fake encounters which was submitted by NHRC under his chairmanship in 1997, wherein he condemned such acts of the police and asked for due process to be followed and victims of fakeen counters to be brought to justice.For his contributions in the field of Human Rights, he was also honoured with the Rotary Award in 2000.
He has written on various topics and delivered speeches in various colleges across India. Some of his top books include “The Law of Human Rights” 2017,
“Human rights of working women” 1999, “Working of the Constitution - Checks and Balances” 2014 and “I, the citizen: unraveling the power of citizen engagement” 2015.