Son of legendary Odia poet Godavarish Mishra, justice Mishra was born in 1926.
He started his career as an advocate in Cuttack in 1950, was appointed as a judge of the Orissa high court in 1969 and became its chief justice in 1980.
Justice Mishra headed the commission of inquiry that probed the anti-Sikh riot following the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
In 1983, he was appointed a judge in the Supreme Court, becoming the 21st chief justice of India in 1990.
After retirement in 1991, he became the first chairman of the National Human Rights Commission from 1993 to 1996.
Justice Mishra was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1998. In 2004, he headed the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities.