Rana Bhagwandas, who was born on December 20, 1942 into a Hindu family in Naseerabad, District Larkana now District Qamber Shahdadkot in Sindh, is a highly respected name of judiciary in Pakistan.
Rana Bhagwandas, who was born on December 20, 1942 into a Hindu family in Naseerabad, District Larkana now District Qamber Shahdadkot in Sindh, is a highly respected name of judiciary in Pakistan. He studied law and received a Masters degree in Islamic studies.
Rana Bhagwabdas joined the bar in 1965 and after two years of practising law with Abdul Ghafoor Bhurgri, an eminent lawyer of Larkana, joined the Pakistan Judicial System in 1967. Later, he became a Sessions judge, and subsequently, a judge of the Sindh High Court.
Rana Bhagwandas was promoted to the Sindh High Court in 1994. In 1999, his appointment to the superior judiciary was challenged by a petition against the Government 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. The petition was rejected, and the petitioner was condemned by other judges of the high court and by a significant number of lawyers.
In 2000, he was elevated as the judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan after taking an oath under the PCO. In September 2007, in a 6-3 vote of the court, Justice Rana Bhagwandas presiding ruled: These petitions are held to be non-maintainable but he was among the three dissenting judges who thought that General Musharraf should relinquish army chief's post. The judgement removed obstacles to Pervez Musharraf's election bid but gave Bhagwandas more honour and respect in the country.
Justice Bhagwandas refused to take oath under the PCO which was issued by 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.
President Musharraf on 9 March, 2007, declared Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary non-functional 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 is 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. 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.
justice Bhagwandas had also served as acting Chief Justice, first in 2005 when Chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was on a ten day trip to the People's Republic of China and then again in December 2006 when the latter was on a Hajj pilgrimage. He was the first Hindu to serve in this post.
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 and Chandigarh with Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, another judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court and his wife.
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. 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.
Justice Rana Bhagwandas has been working as the Chairman of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan. He is headed the interview panel for the selection of the Federal Civil Servants 2009.