Barrister Khan Khalid Adnan– Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh
My relationship with my father had been for some 30 years as I turned 30 in November 2015. Since January 2013, my father had been suffering from some very complex type of neurological disease and eventually he died on 13 February 2016 while fighting with acute pneumonia in the life support machine for more than 3 months. When I’ve been asked to write something about my father, i.e. Khan Saifur Rahman, a legendary lawyer of Bangladesh, I felt something which cannot be explained precisely. Yes he is my father and my learned Senior as well, but more so he was my best friend. Therefore I found it quite difficult to overcome my emotion and write something about him that many do not know. After his death, many newspapers and online blogs had covered his life sketch and the most reputed law journal DLR has also consulted me and soon they would review my father’s remarkable contribution to Bangladesh legal system. Keeping those in mind, I would not bore the readers by just highlighting how remarkable his achievements as a Senior Advocate had been because by now many would know those. I would like to keep my article short and topic specific with a view to help the readers to know more about the unknown aspects of the person within Khan Saifur Rahman.
Who Mr Khan Saifur Rahman is & his brief life sketch
He was born in the village of Sharengal under the Police Station and district of Jhalokathi on 03/10/1938. He had completed his earlier schooling from Calcutta and afterwards from Barisal. He had completed his Bachelors degree in Arts and Law from the University of Dhaka. My father practised in the Barisal Bar for a long period and he was also a part time teacher of Barisal Law College. He used to tell me the struggles that he had gone through in the process of becoming a famous lawyer. He had a large family to support and it was very hard for a young practitioner from Barisal to carry out all these responsibilities. However, with his dedication and devotion towards the profession, he was coping up well and was gaining huge popularity with a lot of briefs in a very short period of time. He always tried to learn rather than earn. That’s why even after having so many briefs, his earning was not substantial. He was a brave freedom fighter and fought bravely for his sector but he never used to disclose his contributions in the 1971’s freedom fight with others. I even did not know of the fact that his name had been there in the official gazette of freedom fighter’s list until he died. In 1974, he moved to Dhaka and started to practise in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. My father told me that at that time, he had nothing but 300 taka in his pocket, a reading table and a trunk, all of which were given to him by my grand father as gifts. This is what with he started his legal career in Dhaka. He had been honest throughout his life. His bank statement would not reveal his longstanding success in this profession for more than 50 years and that is because he had never run after money.
He had been involved in conducting many landmark cases including the historical Bangabandhu murder case. He was the Chief Law adviser to the Ministry of Home Affairs for the period of 2001-2004 and 2005-2006. He had worked as a Senior Prosecutor of the Anti- Corruption Commission for the period of 2007-2009. He had got recognition even from the US Government and on numerous occasions he participated in some important meetings of the United Nations in the USA. On a number of occasions, the UN consulted my father regarding the drafting of some international treaties and conventions. He had his active involvement in the designing and drafting of many of the domestic laws of our country as well.
His political career
Khan Saifur Rahman was a leftist. In his early life, he played a crucial political role as the convenor of Sramik-Krishok Somajbadi Party, a renowned leftist political party back then. He was also the President of Songjukto Sramik Federation. After my birth in 1985, I did not see any of my father’s political activities as he left politics for good by then. One of the main reasons of Abbu’s leaving politics was the fact that he could not speak like our politicians. He was always straightforward in his speech and uncompromising in his stance. He always stood for what he thought to be right even if that had caused harm to him. He had been sent to jail several times during his political career because of his stubbornness and uncompromising nature.
He as a Senior
I had Science background in my SSC & HSC and was thinking of getting into either BUET or IBA. That was in the year back in 2004 when I passed my HSC. All of a sudden, my father requested me to pursue legal education because he was trying to build a second generation in legal profession. Throughout my childhood, I had seen my father working very hard so that we could live good, ride car and have good food. I cannot recall a single day when my father did not go to the court or attend his Chamber (in my childhood my father’s Chamber was in our house in Dhanmondi & Lalmatia) regardless of his health condition or weather. He had this tremendous passion for the legal profession that I have never seen in any one. When my father asked me to join his profession, I could not say no. I had to as I always looked up to him because of his remarkable character. After having completed my BVC (now the BPTC), I returned in June 2008 and joined as a junior to my father in our Bijoynagar Chamber. No matter how much he loved me, he gave me a real hard time as my Senior. His brain was like a computer and it was very difficult to work simultaneously with him because he used to think and work very fast. As a beginner, it was a real hard job for me and during this time I cannot recall how many times my father shouted and yelled at me for not being able to work to meet his satisfaction. Honestly speaking sometimes I used to hate Abbu for all the shouting and yelling at me in front of unknown clients, but today I realise how important were those shouting and yelling were. That is why substantial number of his juniors are now working as Justices in different Benches of the High Court Division or practising with significant reputation in the Supreme Court Bar. Abbu’s most favourite dialogue during the shouting and yelling stage was “keho kichu bolite pare na” (no one can tell any thing) and he used to say this dialogue when everyone remained silent and could not respond to his question. His dedication and devotion towards the profession, to me, is unparallel. He had this enormous respect for the legal profession and he was very proud to be an Advocate. However, in the last days of his professional career, I had observed him to become a bit frustrated with the present condition of our legal profession. I am not going to elaborate this point in my writing as that’s not the point of this write up.
He as a father
He was the best father in the whole world. Had I been not practising law, I would not have known how great a dad he had been. I had seen him working pretty hard even after he attained the age of 70. I had my ups and downs of life and he had been always there for me. I recall one incident when I was pretty down as I got only 4 out of 100 in my Chemistry quiz at college. By seeing me that down, Abbu asked me whether I knew what jettison is. I replied no. He then said that if lizards feel threatened, they drop off their tails, loose weight and then run to move faster and this was called jettison. He told me that in life hard times would come but you would have to learn to drop down your burdens, let go off them, feel easy and move forward like a lizard. Those words worked like magic for me and still today those words keep me easy even when I am under acute pressure. As a kid, I used to play a lot and my neighbours used to complain about me to my father. He had no issue with my endless playing with friends because he used to note that I was also serious towards my studies and had been doing well throughout my academic life. I can bet that many children would envy a father like this. Even though he did not buy me suits when I was at class 7 because that might make me arrogant, he gave me money to buy an electric Ibanez guitar when I was in class 11. How cool was he! I used to cause noise with that guitar and for that my neighbours used to hate me. However, Abbu had been my support throughout. He used to scold me a lot and that’s true but when I was in trouble, he never left me and supported me wholeheartedly. He was the best dad ever!
His last days
My father had been bed ridden since January 2013. Because of a complex neurological disease, he started to lose most of his memories. We took him to Bangkok two times for better treatment but none of them was of any use. His life was a struggling one since his childhood. He had always worked tremendously hard and had never rested. In his character, there was no giving up which I love the most about Abbu. He always used to encourage me by saying that no matter what, you cannot just give up because all the struggles would soon be over. I had seen him fighting hard with death till his last breath. He did not easily give up on his life. Even during his last days, he tried to come back to his family, to life through his hard battle with the life support machine. But all ended on 13 February 2016. To Allah we belong, and to Him we shall return (Quran, 2:156). My father has returned to the Almighty Allah and may Allah grant him Jannah. I request to the readers to pray for my father’s departed soul to Allah so that the Almighty grant him Jannah and ease his tests in the grave.