Vol. 4 Num 246 Thu. February 05, 2004  

In memoriam
Justice Debesh Bhattacharya
Eminent jurist, and noted civil and human rights advocate Justice Debesh Bhattacharya passed away on February 2, 2004 at 19:30 hrs at the Shikder Medical College Hospital, Dhaka. He was 89 at the time of his death.

Justice Bhattacharya was born on November 3, 1914 in an ancient Zamindar family of Ellenga, Tangail. He passed Matriculation Examination from Tangail Bindu Bashini High School in 1931 and was awarded a government scholarship. He passed ISc and BSc examinations with distinction from the Presidency College, Calcutta in 1933 and 1935 respectively. He obtained his Bachelor of Law degree from the University Law College, Calcutta in 1938, securing First Class in all the three Law Examinations -- Preliminary, Intermediate and the Final. He obtained MA degree in Economics in 1940 from the Calcutta University. He joined the Mymensingh Bar in 1941.

Because of his involvement in political activism Justice Bhattacharya was put in jail by the Muslim League Government as a security prisoner for about two years during 1949-50. Following his release from prison, he shifted his practice from Mymensingh District Court to the Dhaka High Court in 1951. He was enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1956 and as a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1961.

Justice Bhattacharya was nominated as a member to the Bar Council in 1960 and worked in this capacity till the coming into operation of the Bar Council Act, 1965. He was then appointed as member of the Rule Committee of the High Court and worked in this capacity till the extinction of the Dhaka High Court.

Justice Debesh Bhattacharya was associated with the foundation of the City Law College, Dhaka in 1955 and worked there as a Lecturer till March 1971.

After the independence of Bangladesh, Mr Bhattacharya was appointed as a Judge of the newly-established Bangladesh High Court in January, 1972. He was elevated to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in June, 1975 and retired from the bench in December, 1977. He proved himself to be an outstanding jurist and some of his verdicts had been historically precedent setting judgements. It may be noted that, Justice Bhattacharya had donated all his law books to the Supreme Court Bar Association Library.

Throughout his life, Justice Bhattacharya was deeply involved in philanthropic and social welfare activities. He was the President of the Government Body of the City Law College. He was also the President of Ram Krishna Mission in Dhaka, President of Gandhi Ashram in Noakhali and President of Prabartak Sangha, Chittagong. He was associated with the foundation of two high schools (including one girls' school in his mother's name) and a college at his native village Ellenga. He was the chief patron of a number of socio-cultural organisations in Ellenga.

Justice Bhattacharya was widely known for his involvement in defending democratic and human rights. He was the Founder-President of Bangladesh Enemy Property Act Repeal Committee. Justice Bhattacharya was also a Presidium Member of the Bangladesh Peace Council. He was a member of the Executive Committee of Bangladesh Nagarik Committee. He was a member of the Gono Adalat (people's court) set up to put on trial the war criminals of 1971. He was Chairman of the Citizens' Commission set up to investigate the Jagannath Hall tragedy of October 15, 1985. He was founding patron of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee.

Justice Bhattacharya had published four volumes of essays and a book of poems.

Justice Bhattacharya is survived by his wife Chitra Bhattacharya, a former Member of the Parliament, two sons, economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya and physicist Dr Debadarshi Bhattacharya, and daughter Debalina Roy, his relatives and a large number of friends and admirers.