Vernon V. Baker, a former Interstate Commerce Commission official who was the plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against gas rate increases here in the early 1950s, died Sunday of cancer at Fairfax Hospital. He was 72.

Mr. Baker, a transportation lawyer who was an examiner and official at the ICC from 1938 to 1957, later served as director of its Bureau of Finance until his retirement in 1963. He then practiced law in the District.

A native of Jackson, Tenn., Mr. Baker was a graduate of National University Law School, now part of George Washington University. He moved to the District in 1923 and was living in McLean at the time of his death.

Mr. Baker was chairman of the Federation of Citizens Association's public utilities committee in 1950, when that organization sued to overturn rate increases granted the Washington Gas Light Co..

When the citizens organization was dismissed as a plaintiff because the group was not a gas consumer, Mr. Baker handled the case himself. The rate increases eventually were reversed, and more than $1 million in refunds was ordered to be distributed to 176,000 gas customers in the District.

Mr. Baker was the recipient in 1951 of a trophy, given him by the Washington Evening Star, for his efforts to overturn the gas rate increases.

A member of Phil Beta Gamma legal fraternity, Mr. Baker belonged to various professional organizations. He also served as trustee as Northminster Presbyterian Church in Washington and Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean.

Mr. Baker is survived by his wife, Alice, of the family home in McLean: a son, Larry, of McLean; and a sister, Maude Jones of Nashville, Tenn.