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Ex-President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed passes away

Shahabuddin Ahmed, the former President and Chief Justice of Bangladesh, passed away at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka on Saturday morning. He was 92.

He breathed his last at 10:25 am at the intensive care unit of CMH, said Supreme Court spokesperson Mohammad Saifur Rahman.

Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed had been undergoing treatment at the hospital since February 21 due to old age complications. Following the deterioration of his health condition, he was shifted to the ICU.

Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique expressed his profound shock at the death of Shahabuddin and prayed for the salvation of the departed soul.

His namaz-e-janaza will be held on the Supreme Court premises and another funeral is likely to be held at his Netrakona village home.

Shahabuddin Ahmed may be buried in Banani near the grave of his wife.

Shahabuddin was born on February 1, 1930, in Netrokona district’s Pemal village. He went to Dhaka University and obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1951 and his master’s in international relations in 1952.

He entered the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1954. He worked for a time in the executive branch before he was transferred to the judicial branch in 1960. He served as additional district and sessions judge and district and sessions judge before he was appointed as Registrar of the Dhaka High Court in 1967 and elevated to the High Court in 1972. He was then appointed to the Appellate Division in 1980. He also served as chairman of the Bangladesh Red Cross Society from 1978 to 1982.

Shahabuddin Ahmed was appointed as the Chief Justice of Bangladesh in 1990. Later that year, Ahmed would oversee a landmark change in Bangladesh’s government.

Military dictator HM Ershad, bowing to pressure from opposition political parties amid an uprising, handed over power to the then Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, who became the head of the government as acting president of Bangladesh.

Ahmed formed a caretaker government with non-political persons and held a ‘free and fair’ election in the country in February 1991. During this period, he gave back freedom of the press by amending a number of laws, including the Special Powers Act.

Ahmed was chosen by all political parties, including Ershad, to hold the interim government that would oversee the neutral election to parliament.

After the national parliamentary election in 1991, Ahmed handed over the parliamentary ruling power to the newly elected Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. He later resigned from the presidency and returned to his previous post of chief justice from which he eventually retired in 1995.

In 1996, Shahabuddin was nominated for the presidency by the Awami League government and was elected unopposed. He fell out with the Awami League after it lost the parliamentary election in 2001. Ahmed retired from the presidency that same year.