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HENB | Karachi | Feb 23, 2015:: Former Supreme Court judge Justice (retired) and Human Rights Defender Rana Bhagwandas died after suffering a cardiac arrest in Karachi on Monday morning , Radio Pakistan reported.
He was the first Hindu and the second non-Muslim head of the supreme court of Pakistan.
The 72-year-old former judge was under treatment for a heart ailment at a private hospital at the time of his passing.
Rana Bhagwandas was born on December 20, 1942 in a Hindu Sindhi Rajput family in Naseerabad, Larkana District (now Qambar Shahdadkot District) in Sindh. He studied law and received a Masters degree in Islamic Studies and was considered an expert on constitutional law.
Bhagwandas also worked as the Chairman of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan. He headed the interview panel for the selection of the Federal Civil Servants 2009.
In a cabinet meeting that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was presiding over, he appreciated the services of Rana Bhagwandas for rule of law in the country. PM Nawaz said that the former justice was a man of principles who had firm faith in democracy and the rule of law.
The meeting also observed a one minute silence to condole the death.
He was a practising advocate for about two years before being appointed as a judge in July 1967. He was made a judge of the Sindh High Court in June 1994.
He had been a supreme court judge since February 2000.
In 2002, the Sindh High Court had dismissed a challenge to his appointment to the higher judiciary on the grounds that he was a non-Muslim.
Bhagwandas became the acting CJP during the 2007 judicial crisis in Pakistan and also briefly became the acting chief justice of Pakistan when the incumbent CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry went on foreign tours in 2005 and 2006.
He also worked as the chairman of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan. He headed the interview panel for the selection of Pakistan’s Federal Civil Servants 2009.
Alongwith Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan issued condolence messages expressing grief and sorrow over the demise of Rana Bhagwandas.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari expressed profound grief over the death and paid a tribute to the late judge. In a condolence message he said “A jurist of impeccable integrity Baghwandas was a noble soul and an inspiring humanist who radiated hope. Leading by personal example he silently illumined the path and served as a role model for many. At a time when excellence seems receding people like Bhagwandas will be sorely missed.”
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain also expressed sorrow over the demise of the judge. In a statement the MQM chief praised Bhagwandas’ contribution to the judicial system.
Many, including Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto, also condoled the death by taking to Twitter and expressed their sympathies.
Late Rana Bhagwandas was a devout Hindu and an ardent patron and life member of Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC). PHC members were greatly shocked to hear the news of sad demise of Rana and rushed to the hospital. The PHC members also took part in the funeral of Rana. In their message PHC conveyed that, “It’s a great loss to everybody in Pakistan. Justice (R) Rana Bhagwandas was a great person and personality of Sindh. He passed away but he will remain in the hearts of people for ever. He was a great Jurist and humble person. He was a poet of great repute and composed ‘Naatia’ poetry. He always possessed the justice based on Human Rights”.
Friends of many like one Advocate Amarnath [see the video below], Rana Bhagwandas always wanted to restore the rights of minorities at per the majority, which have been remained an existential crisis for the Hindu minorities in Pakistan.
Persecution of Hindu Minorities as described by Advocate and HR Councillor Amarnath
With spl inputs from Tribune and Agencies.