Rana Bhagwandas — salute to a hero

Published: February 24, 2015
Rana Bhagwandas passed away in Karachi on February 23 as a result of cardiac arrest, aged 73. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

Rana Bhagwandas passed away in Karachi on February 23 as a result of cardiac arrest, aged 73. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

Few men enjoy almost universal respect and an unchallenged reputation for integrity. Former acting chief justice of Pakistan, Rana Bhagwandas, who passed away in Karachi on February 23 as a result of cardiac arrest aged 73, was among those who did. During his career as a jurist, he earned the highest standing as a man never willing to compromise on principles and one whose competence was recognised both within and outside the country. He acted as the country’s chief justice from March to July 2007, when Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had been made ‘non-functional’ by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, and also on occasions when Justice (retd) Chaudhry travelled abroad. By serving in this capacity, he placed non-Muslims under the spotlight in a country where they have faced increasing bias.

The rise of Justice Bhagwandas to the top of the superior judiciary, as a member of a minority community, is a triumph in itself. As such he served as a role model, and as a strict constitutionalist, fought consistently for equal rights for all citizens regardless of their beliefs. Ironically enough, his own elevation to the Supreme Court in 1999, after five years as a Sindh High Court judge, had been unsuccessfully challenged in a petition, which raised the question of his religion.

Justice Bhagwandas was among the judges who refused to take oath under General (retd) Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order in 2007, and as part of a Supreme Court bench, wrote a dissenting note stating that the dictator should step down as army chief. After his retirement from the Supreme Court, he headed the Federal Public Service Commission with the same determination to act correctly and professionally. Justice Bhagwandas passed away at a time when we need more persons of his calibre and standing. He leaves behind a shining example of what can be achieved through determination, courage and conviction. This should act as a source of inspiration to persons of all faiths in the country. We certainly need such inspiration and such examples.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • mak
    Feb 24, 2015 - 12:29AM

    Sąd Day for Pakistan.We Lost one of our greats. May God bless his soul.Recommend

  • DOC
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:08AM

    RIP…. amenRecommend

  • UM
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:33AM

    An exemplary Pakistani; true to the nations ideal from beginning to the end. Recommend

  • Vakil
    Feb 24, 2015 - 3:58AM

    Noble sentiments dear Editors — esp the last few lines. But I have sad and bad news for you — such like simply do not exist any more, and those that do are either already gone or in the process of fleeing your country… and the few that are left are either simply too old and silly or at worst are cowed down by your own country’s ‘existential crisis’. RIP, Bhagwas Das Sir.Recommend

  • musalman
    Feb 24, 2015 - 6:54AM

    What a man… Salute to you Sir!Recommend

  • Anonymouse
    Feb 24, 2015 - 11:33AM

    Salute the great man!! Point to ponder..A nation created for minorities where a minority can never become the president, how hypocritical is that!!Recommend

  • Dr. Arshad Kamal Khan
    Feb 24, 2015 - 4:20PM

    Why were the politicians who appear on TV daily silent about the death of a man who seem to have set standards for honesty and justice?
    Rana Bhagwandas was a true honest Pakistani and we are all the poorer today by his passing.
    Pakistan will miss him.

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