Dorab Patel

20 Mar 2019
15 Mar 1997
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Justice Dorab Framrose Patel (b. 1924 Quetta– d.15 March 1997), was a Pakistan jurist, and lawmaker who served as a former Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Chief Justice of Sindh High Court. Justice Patel was a prominent campaigner for human rights, and was a founding member of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in 1987 and the co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

A Parsee by faith, he rose up the ranks of the judiciary to become one of Pakistan’s most senior most judges, only to resign on principle after refusing to take an oath of allegiance to Chief Martial Law Administrator and Chief of Army Staff at that time, General Zia-ul-Haq in 1981. Justice Patel died of leukaemia.

He attended various boarding schools before attending the Bombay University in 1942. In 1944, Patel graduated with a LLB in Law and Justice from the Bombay University. In 1945, Patel moved to Karachi where he began his legal practice in Sindh High Court. In 1946, Patel went to United Kingdom and attended the London School of Economics. In 1948, Patel received MSc in Economics, followed by LLM in Law and Justice Development in 1949. He wrote his master’s thesis on Pakistan economy and legal system in Pakistan. In 1950, he was called to the bar from Lincoln’s Inn where he was awarded JD in Law in 1953. Following completing his doctorate, Patel returned to Karachi, West Pakistan where he began practising law in West Pakistan High Court.

He was elected secretary of the High Court Bar in 1964 and was raised to the bench of the then West Pakistan High Court in 1967. Justice Patel was elevated to the Supreme Court on 7 January 1976.

On 24 March 1981, General Zia ul Haq issued a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and asked the Justices of High Courts and Supreme Court to take oath on it. Justice Patel refused to take oath and resigned.Had Justice Patel not resigned, he would have become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After resignation from the Supreme Court, he devoted the rest of his life to waging a crusade for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden. In 1990, he became the second Pakistani to be elected a member of the exclusive International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

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