A Bangladesh’s giant lawyer and jurist Syed Mahbub Murshed was born on 11 January 1911 and he died on 3 April 1979. He lived only 68 years. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it comes to icons and stars fans have grown to love. We shall never forget him. His memory we shall always cherish.
Murshed was born to his parents Syed Abdus Salek, a member of the Bengal Civil Service and Afzalunnessa Begum, a sister of Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq.
He obtained his bachelors in economics from Presidency College, Calcutta in 1931, masters from Calcutta University in 1932, and L.L.B degree in 1933. In 1939, he became a barrister from Lincoln's Inn in London.
Murshed became a member of the Calcutta High Court Bar in 1934. Returning from England in 1939, he started practicing as a senior advocate of the Federal Court of India. In 1951, he migrated to the-then Pakistan and joined the Dhaka High Court Bar in 1951. He was elevated to a judge of the Dhaka High Court bench in 1955. He served as an ad hoc judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court during 1962–1963. He was appointed Chief Justice of the-then East Pakistan High Court in May 1964 and served close to 1967. He resigned from the position in November 1967.
According to the former Chief Justice of Bangladesh Latifur Rahman, some of the notable judgments delivered by Murshed was Abdul Haque's case, the Pan case, the Basic Democracies case and the case of Lt Colonel GL Bhattacharya.
Murshed joined the mass movement against Ayub in late 1968. A contemporary report in Time magazine stated, "The opposition cause was also boosted by widely respected Syed Mahbub Murshed, former Chief Justice of the East Pakistan High Court, who told the nation that 'We are not destined to perish in ignominy if we put up a determined and united resistance to evil.”
Murshed was married to Lyla Arzumand Banu, a daughter of Mohammed Zakariah, an Indian Nationalist and Mayor of Calcutta in 1939. Together they had three sons – Syed Marghub Murshed, a former civil servant (CSP), Syed Mamnun Murshed, an academic and diplomat, and Syed Mansood Murshed, an educationalist, and one daughter, Syeda Shaida Murshed.
Whereas means have been already taken to express the public sense of the loss which the country has sustained, by the death of the late Chief Justice of the-then High Court of former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and the profound grief which has affected the community: And whereas, it is fit that the actions, character and services of the illustrious dead should be adequately portrayed and commemorated.
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J.G. Holland says, “Laws are the very bulwarks’ of liberty; they define every man’s rights, and defend the individual liberties of all men.” Barrister Murshed has taken up legal profession as his career and conforming to the standards of legal profession: A person following a profession, especially a learned profession; one who earns a living in a given or implied occupation engaged in one of the learned professions, as law and as a member of a profession, especially one of the learned professions; a professional whose work is consistently of high quality; and as a lawyer, he should be a consummated craftsman.
Barrister Murshed is no exception to these axioms. He is a person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of legal issues; being an outstanding jurist, he is a professional person authorised to practice law; conducts lawsuits or gives legal advice; he is an authority on constitutional law. “In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning people are all the same” and Justice Murshed might have a firm conviction in these words of Albert Einstein.
For as much as it has pleased Almighty God, in his wise Providence, to take out of this world the Hon. SM Murshed, late Chief Justice of the-then High Court, let us bow in lowly submission under this an afflictive dispensation. Let us offer up our thanksgivings, for the good examples, and for the signal services of the eminent deceased. And let us pray that through Divine Grace, we may make a religious improvement of the mournful event commemorated; so that after this transitory life shall be ended, we may rest with the Spirits of the just men like him who may make us to be perfect.
Especially we adore his name, for the eminent virtues and for the illustrious actions of the late Chief Justice of the High Court. While we acknowledge his undeserved mercies in having given him, in times of difficulty and danger, to the counsels and to the administration of justice in this land, we pray that the present remembrance of him may impress us with due gratitude for the benefits, which through his agency, have been extended to us by him of all good.
May his memory be an incentive to all who shall come after him in our Courts of Justice, and in all the employments of the state. And may posterity, while they shall inherit the lustre of his name, enjoy the benefit of his life, in a continuance of the happy consequences of his labours, and in a succession of great and good men, to the glory of his name, and to the prosperity of his people, to the end of time.
May the inhabitants of this land, while they join in or approve of our present celebration, feel it a call to a due reverence of the laws, and of submission to the administration of them; and may all, who like the venerable deceased, have been eminent benefactors to mankind, like Justice Murshed, also find grateful fellow citizens, honouring them in their lives and in their deaths, which we ask through the Creator.
Fellow citizens, Justice Murshed is shown most beneficently to the world, in raising up during his times and in crowning with length of days, men of pre-eminent goodness and wisdom. Many of the undoubted blessings of life are to deaden the aspirations of his immortal spirit.
The unnumbered contributions to the sum of physical enjoyment, which a bountiful creator has spread around us, afford such a prodigal repast to the senses, that if man were not sometimes allured from the banquet as to be totally insensible to either.
To the sensual, it often comes in the pains and disgusts of satiety, and occasionally to the most hardened in the awakening denunciations of future responsibility. The good find it in the pleasures of beneficence, and the wise in the enjoyments of wisdom. It is addressed severally to each, and with endless variety corresponding to his personal case and condition. But it comes to all, and at all times, and with most persuasive influence, in the beautiful example of a long career of public and private virtue, of wisdom never surprised, of goodness never intermittent, of benignity, simplicity, and gentleness, finally ending in that hoary head which "is a crown of glory of Justice Murshed, if it be found in the way of righteousness."
Justice SM Murshed was a man of extraordinary vigour of mind, and of undaunted courage. His placidity, moderation, and calmness, irresistibly won the esteem of men, and invited them to intercourse with him; his benevolent heart, and his serene and at times joyous temper, made him the cherished companion of his friends; his candour and integrity attracted the confidence of the bar; and that extraordinary comprehension and grasp of mind, by which difficulties were seized and overcome without effort or parade, commanded the attention and respect of the Courts of Justice. This is the traditionary account of the professional years of Murshed. He accordingly rose rapidly to distinction, and to a distinction which nobody merited, because he seemed neither to wish it, nor to be conscious of it himself.
A day has now approached, when questions of momentous national concern were to display more extensively the powers of this eminent man, and to give to the whole Bangladesh’s people an interest in his services and fame.
Anwar A. Khan is an independent political analyst who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs