Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman breathed his last on 11 January, 2014. His demise put an end to yet another era of excellence in the history of judiciary in Bangladesh. On the fifth death anniversary of Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, we remember his immense contribution to the realm of legal knowledge through his acumen and judicial activism.
A multifaceted luminary Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman served as the chief of the nonpartisan caretaker government of the country prior to the 1996 general election.
Born on December 3, 1928, Habibur Rahman was a language movement veteran, an academic who taught history and law at Dhaka University and Rajshahi University, among others, and wrote 95 books on various topics including politics, religion and works of Rabindranath Tagore.
He served as a judge of High Court from 1976 to 1985, and as a Supreme Court justice from 1985-1995. He became the acting chief justice between 1990 and 1991 when the then chief justice Shahbuddin Ahmed took charge as interim president following the fall of the Ershad regime. He was appointed chief justice in February 1995, and served at the capacity until his retirement.
The recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award and Ekushey Padak, passed away on this day due to old-age complications on January 11, 2014 at the age of 85.
In his professional life, whether it was a teacher, a lawyer, a judge or an administrator of the country, Justice Habibur Rahman led a life of strict principles and liberal and tolerant views. He was a man of few words, and a voracious reader. While serving as the chairman of Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA), he donated over a thousand books from his personal collection to the organisation, and 400-odd more books were donated to BILIA after his demise by his family.
His was a life of greatness, in more ways than one, but not the kind that is fervently celebrated by the masses. Justice Habibur Rahman served the country from the top positions in two of the three pillars of the state, and he did not rest in his pursuit to make this country a better place, whether it was imparting knowledge in a classroom or writing books that would serve as reference for his successors. His was a life of subdued greatness, like a lighthouse that stands in the middle of rough seas, guiding generations without ever calling attention to itself.