Justice Retired Rana Bhagwandas

Published on by KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ

His Lordship Mr. Justice Retired Rana Bhagwandas (Urduرانا بھگوان داس‎) (b. December 20, 1942), a highly respected name of the Pakistanijudiciary was a senior judge and former acting chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (CJP). He remained the acting CJP during the 2007 judicial crisis in Pakistan and also briefly became the acting Chief Justice of Pakistan when the incumbent Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry went on foreign tours in 2005 and 2006,[1] and thus became the first Hindu and the second non-Muslim to serve as chief of the highest court in Pakistan.[2]Rana Bhagwandas is now working as the Chairman of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan. He is heading the interview panel for the selection of the Federal Civil Servants 2009.

Early life

Rana Bhagwandas was born on December 20, 1942 into a Hindu Sindhi family in NaseerabadLarkana District (now Qamber Shahdadkot District) in Sindh. He studied law and received a Masters degree in Islamic studies.[2] He joined the bar in 1965 and after two years of practising law, joined the Pakistani Judicial System in 1967.[3] Later, he became a sessions judge, and subsequently, a judge of the Sindh High Court.[4] He is not a fan of cricket, but remains a supporter of the Pakistan cricket team.[5]


Judicial career

Rana Bhagwandas was promoted to the Sindh High Court in 1994. In 1999, his appointment to the superior judiciary was challenged by a constitutional petition (no. 1069/1999) against theGovernment of Pakistan and Judge Bhagwandas. The petition demanded that the judicial bench consisting of Judge Bhagwandas should be declared unconstitutional because of Bhagwandas' religion, claiming that only Muslims can be appointed to the superior judiciary.[6] The petition was rejected, and the petitioner was condemned by other judges of the high court and by a significant number of lawyers.[7]
In 2000, he joined the Supreme Court of Pakistan after taking an oath of allegiance to Pervez Musharraf's administration under the PCO.[8] Justice Bhagwandas took strong note of a kidnapping case involving a girl in North-West Frontier Province forced to be a prostitute for four years.[9] A believer in the sanctity of the Constitution of Pakistan and its legal system, Bhagwandas maintains that the law is equal for all religious communities in Pakistan. While staunchly defending Pakistan's society and legal system against charges of bias and suppression of minorities, Bhagwandas is also a vocal opponent of the practice of honour killings of women in the provincial rural areas.
For the 2006-2007 judicial year, Justice Bhagwandas was a member of the second bench of justices which was also home to Justice Nasir ul-Mulk and Justice Syed Jamshed Ali.[10]
On September 28, 2007, in a 6-3 vote the court, Judge Rana Bhagwandas presiding, ruled: "These petitions are held to be non-maintainable but he was among the three dissenting judges who thought that Gen. Musharraf should relinquish army chief's post." The judgment removed obstacles to Pervez Musharraf's election bid but gave Bhagwandas more honour and respect in the country.[11]
Justice Bhagwandas refused to take oath under the PCO which was issued by then President of Pakistan General Musharraf and was among the 60 judges sacked on Nov 3, 2007. He retired in December 2007 and was reinstated in retired status.


Acting Chief Justice

On March 9, 2007, Pakistan President Musharraf declared Chief Justice Chaudhary "non-functional" [12] and forwarded a reference against him to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) of Pakistan. While Justice Bhagwandas should have taken his place as Acting Chief Justice, but his whereabouts remained untraceable and it was said that he's on a foreign tour of India. On March 15, 2007 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court urging the Pakistan Government to declare his whereabouts.[13] He returned home on March 23. He was aware of events transpiring in Pakistan and on his return from India, he assumed the office of the acting CJP from 24 March to 20 July 2007 till the SCP full court restored justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.[14]
Earlier, justice Bhagwandas had also served as acting Chief Justice - first in 2005 while Chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was on a ten day trip to the People's Republic of China and then again in December 2006[1] when the latter was on a Haj pilgrimage. He was the first Hindu and the third non-Muslim (after A. R. Cornelius and Dorab Patel) to serve in this post.[15] On February 8, 2005 Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas was honoured with "Siropa" (robe of honour) during his maiden visit to Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar, India. He was on a private visit to Amritsar, Ropar andChandigarh with Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, another judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court and his wife. [16]
Chairman FPSC
Rana Bhagwandas is now working as the Chairman of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan. He is heading the interview panel for the selection of the Federal Civil Servants 2009. [17]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Comment on this post