Srikrishna was born in Bangalore, to B. Narayanaswamy and Sharadamma. Narayanaswamy was a lawyer in Bombay High Court. Srikrishna was brought up in Bombay (now Mumbai) and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Science from the Elphinstone College of the University of Bombay, received an LL.B. from the Government Law College, Mumbai, an LL.M. from the University of Bombay, and stood second in the University. He holds an MA in Sanskrit from the University of Mysore, a diploma in Urdu and a postgraduate diploma in Indian Aesthetics from the University of Bombay. He knows ten languages including his mother tongue Kannada.
In 1967, Srikrishna entered private practice in the Bombay High Court, specialising in labour and industrial law. He was counsel for a number of large corporations. Besides appearing in the High Court, he also argued cases in the Supreme Court of India and was designated as a Senior Advocate in 1987.
Srikrishna was appointed as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court in 1990 and as a permanent judge in 1991. In 1993, he assumed charge of the Commission of Inquiry into the riots that took place in Bombay in 1992–93. The "Srikrishna Commission", as it became known, submitted its report in 1998, and generated widespread interest in India and abroad. In September 2001, Srikrishna was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court and on 3 October 2002, was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of India. On 21 May 2006, as per rules, on reaching the age of superannuation of sixty-five years, he retired from the Supreme Court.
In 1992–93, the city of Mumbai was rocked by communal riots between the Hindu and Muslim communities after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by thousands of Hindu Karsevaks. While communal riots are not unusual in modern India, these riots were particularly startling in light of Mumbai's largely peaceful past. Above all, they appeared to compromise the much-vaunted image of the city as cosmopolitan, secular and tolerant. Further, the riots appeared to solidify the image of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray, who scathingly criticised the judiciary. The 1993 blasts left 257 people dead, injured 1,400, and delivered a massive blow to Mumbai's psyche. The bombings were also metropolitan India's first exposure to terror.
Srikrishna, then a relatively junior judge of the Bombay High Court, accepted the task of investigating the causes of the riots, something that many of his colleagues had turned down. For five years, until 1998, he examined victims, witnesses, and alleged perpetrators. Detractors came initially from left-secular quarters who were wary of a judge who was a devout and practising Hindu. The Commission was disbanded by the Shiv Sena-led government in January 1996 and on public opposition was later reconssions of Inquiry Act. As an Inquiry is not a court of law (even if it conducts proceedings like one) and the report of an inquiry is not binding on governments, Srikrishna's recommendations cannot be directly enforced. To this date, the recommendations of the Commission have neither been accepted nor acted upon by the Government of Maharashtra.
The Sixth central pay commission was set up by Union Cabinet of India on 5 October 2006.Justice Srikrishna to head 6th pay panel– Rediff.com Business The Commission, was headed by Srikrishna.
Srikrishna headed a one-man commission to inquire about the 19 February 2009 Madras High Court incidents. He submitted an interim report on 4 March 2009 with his findings to the Supreme Court of India.
He is interested in refugee law and human rights issues, and besides being a member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges, has presented papers on the subject. He was invited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Geneva for a seminar on New Forms of Persecution in 2000, and on the Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural rights to New Delhi in 2001.
His study of Indian Philosophy & Jurisprudence, has also published a number of articles on the subject, including an article on "Conflict and Harmony: The Genesis of Legal and Social Systems", which is published in the journal, History of Science and Philosophy of Science. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Indian Law Institute.
He is a Life Member of the National Institute of Personnel Management, is also associated with the Western Region Committee of the Employers Federation of India, the Industrial Relations Research Association (USA), and the International Bar Association (UK).
A five-member committee was constituted, with Srikrishna as the chairman on 3 February 2010. The committee submitted its report 30 December 2010. Other members of the committee were:Vinod Duggal – former Union Home Secretary
Ravindar Kaur – professor at IIT Delhi
Abusaleh Sharif – PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at the New Delhi Office of International Food Policy Research Institute
Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh - Vice-Chancellor, National Law University
Srikrishna is a connoisseur of art, culture, drama, and classical music, in general, and Carnatic music in particular. He tries to find time to pursue what he says is his "real passion" — Indian classical music and culture. He is married to Purnima and has two daughters.
Mumbai has several cultural centers,and Srikrishna takes part during his free time. Srikrishna was the invited speaker, at the 2017 Golden Jubilee lecture at The Mysore association, Mumbai Book on riot survivors released by Srikrishna in Mumbai, 2012,
A Heritage of Judging: The Bombay High Court through One Hundred and Fifty Years. (Co-author)
Skinning a Cat
Foreword of Gujarat Files, self-published by Rana Ayyub.