M A I N   N E W S

Acting Pak CJ’s kin denied entry at Wagah
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, March 29
An unsavoury situation arose at the Wagah joint check post when Immigration authorities denied entry to seven members of the family of Justice Rana Bhagwandas, first Hindu acting Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Justice Rana had to return to his country with his family when he failed to convince the authorities concerned. They had arrived here through the Lahore-Amritsar bus.

Though the authorities asked Justice Rana that alone he, could visit Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh but he told them that he could not go without his family. He failed to convince the authorities at Wagah that all family members, including two women, had got valid visa to visit Lucknow and they would be boarding a train from Amritsar today itself.

His pleas fell on deaf ears. The senior judicial officers from Amritsar who had reached here to receive Justice Rana and his family made efforts to contact senior officials of the Home Ministry, New Delhi for allowing Justice Rana’s family to board the train from Amritsar, but it did not yield result.

However, a senior officer of the FRRO said that he did not know that it was Justice Rana and his family. He said some persons, who were not having visa for Amritsar, were refused entry.

Justice Bhagwandas is the second non-Muslim judge in Pakistan to reach the top position in judiciary. Earlier, Justice A.R. Cornelius, a Christian, had served as the Chief Justice from 1960-68. Justice Bhagwandas (64), one of the few Hindu judges in Pakistan, took the oath in December last year.

He assumed charge when incumbent, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, was away to China. Hailing from Karachi, Justice Bhagwandas is known for his knowledge of the constitutional law.

He joined judicial service in 1967, and made his way up as sessions judge and a judge of the Sindh High Court. He has also done his Masters in Islamic studies. Born on December 20, 1942, into a Hindu family in Sindh, Justice Bhagwandas joined the Pakistan Judicial Service in July 1967.

Justice Rana who described the Indian authorities as hyper-sensitive was seen convincing the authorities concerned here that they could not go to Lucknow straight without landing in Amritsar. He offered the authorities to give undertaking and photo copies of the train tickets which did not seem enough to convince them.

The local administration had booked room in the local Circuit House and made arrangements for lunch. Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM, was deputed to look after Justice Rana at the Circuit House.

However, Justice Rana handed over the four volumes of trial exhibits of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru to the local judicial officers with a forwarding letter addressed to Registrar, Punjab and Haryana High Court after 75 years of their martyrdom. These documents were demanded by the high court at the time of its golden jubilee celebrations.


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