“He was one of the finest people I have known, a man of great integrity and principle.”

(Asma Jahangir on Dorab Patel)

 

Born in 1924, Dorab Patel was a Pakistani lawyer of Parsi descent. After completing his education in England, he returned to Karachi in early 1950s to practice law. Throughout his illustrious career, he never compromised on the principles he believed in. In 1974, for example, Sindh government banned a newspaper of Jamat e Islami. The liberal, secular values Patel upheld stood in a stark contrast with the paper’s content. Nonetheless, he judged the ban unlawful since it breached the party, paper’s freedom of expression. Similarly, he was set to become Chief Justice of Pakistan during General Zia’s regime but refused to take oath of allegiance under an unlawful Provisional Constitutional Order and resigned. After resignation, he started working for the human rights in the country and helped set up the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1987. In 1990, he became the second Pakistani to be elected in the prestigious, exclusive International Commission of Jurists. He died in 1997.

The way fundamental rights are being violated today, from the forced disappearances since General Musharraf’s time to the increased censorships on media, we miss the brave, righteous voice of Dorab Patel in our courts more than ever.