Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza A. Khan: A leading light in the legal profession

Dr Zia Ullah Ranjah

Dr Zia Ullah Ranjah

My mentor, my teacher

A leading light, a philanthropic, a great teacher, lawyer and mentor in the legal profession in Pakistan departed quietly on December 14, 2020, in the comfort of his family and home in Lahore.

Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza A. Khan was born in 1937 at Lahore into a highly cultured family. He was the first son of famous Muhammad Inamullah Khan, Chief Engineer West Pakistan and the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Engineering and Technology. His mother Begum Khurshid Inamullah Khan was a social worker. He did his LL.B from the University of Punjab in 1958 and LL.M from Harvard Law School in 1962. He started practising law at Lahore in 1958. He was elected Vice Chairman of the Punjab Bar Council in 1976 and was the only person reelected the following year. He was elected president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association in 1977. He worked as Punjab Advocate General in 1978 and was later elevated to the High Court in 1979. He remained judge of the Lahore High Court from 1979 to 1981, that he renounced upon his refusal to take unconstitutional oath under the provisional constitutional order, promulgated by General Ziaul Haq. He was also elected as Member Pakistan Bar Council in 1990 and served as such for five years.

I met Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza A. Khan in a classroom where he was a teacher and me a student at the Punjab University Law College in 1998. I was so attracted by his personality, discipline, and knowledge, that I attended his classes in civil procedure twice: once during my LL.B and then during LL.M. Later, I started teaching as a visiting faculty at the same college. During my law practice, I used to visit Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza to seek professional guidance and discuss with him about the deterioration in our law and justice institutions. Lastly, I visited him to get comments on an Op-ed on legal reforms which is published in DAWN. He reviewed this piece and encouraged me to write more on the subject of legal and judicial reforms in Pakistan, which has now culminated into a book titled: Reflections on the Justice System of Pakistan, published by Pakistan Law House, Karachi. When I shared the first draft of the book with Sir, he said: It is a well-written book. This valued comment by a legend of the legal profession meant a lot for a humble student of law. I spoke last to my respected teacher about the book, a few weeks before the departure of his noble soul; he was happy and encouraging.

One can imagine the sorrow and grief, that the book I discussed with Aamer Raza A. Khan was in my hands, he was not with us, Alas! But, he lives with us. He lives through his work and inspiration. I have visited Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza’s office with due respect and memory and presented the book to Ibrahim Haroon, his grandson. I hope Ibrahim carries on the mission of his grandfather with the same dedication and zeal.

Justice (Retd.) Aamer Raza A. Khan was a great human, an accomplished academic, an upright and competent lawyer. He was largely inspired by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and followed his discipline and ethics in letter and spirit. He taught at the University of Punjab as a Visiting Professor of Law for about half a century. He was always in time in his classes. We could even correct our watches. He had a deep knowledge of history and current affairs. He reflected high spirit, morale, and energy. His lectures clarified the intricacies of the law effortlessly and invoked a sense of justice. He encouraged students to speak with a dignified pause after each question. He was very much concerned about the performance of our justice system and the legal rights of citizens. He was simple, plain, and measured. His criticism was cool, careful and objective. He was enthusiastic, kind, optimistic, pure, sober and smiling. His traits will ever remain fresh in the memory of his colleagues and students.
He was a symbol of honesty and discipline in the legal profession. He authored an acclaimed commentary on the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which is in its 12th edition. It remains a leading book on Civil Procedure in Pakistan; he referred the most relevant cases on each aspect of the civil procedure in a reader-friendly and precise manner. His book is the first choice on Civil Procedure amongst lawyers, judges, law teachers, and civil servants.

He paid back to the nation in various capacities. He focused in the field of law, justice and healthcare. He taught at the Punjab University for about fifty years and a few years at LUMS. He was the President of Amin Maktab, an NGO working for the children with disabilities. He acted as the Chairman of the Board of the Punjab Healthcare Commission. He was the President of the Hospital Executive Committee, Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT), Free Eye Care Trust. It shows law and life were close to the heart and soul of Aamer Raza. Persons of his qualities and abilities are becoming extinct in the legal profession.

The children at Amin Maktab and eye patients at LRBT will remember Aamer Raza A. Khan as a ‘Messiah’. His students and colleagues will have reverence for him. The fragrance of his loyalty, love and care remains with his family and friends. He lived with empathy, honesty and dignity. His death is a great loss for our nation!

I could not put it any better. Let this be his requiem. May his soul rest in peace!

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