In a country where political divisions go deep down, he was one of the very few personalities from any profession who was trusted by all sides of the political spectrum. It speaks volumes of his wisdom, sagacity, impartiality and sense of fairness that political archrivals sought his legal counsel in situations of crisis.
He did not belong to any political party, but he had the unique honour of representing in court all the prominent political leaders in the country, including the present and former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.
The constitution expert and former attorney general of Bangladesh, Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq passed away yesterday.
He was 85.
The eminent jurist, who was also known for philanthropy, breathed his last around 8:30am at the intensive care unit (ICU) of Ad-Din Hospital, said Dr Nahida Yeasmin, a director there. Rafique-Ul Huq was the chairman of the private hospital in the capital.
He was admitted there with urinary tract infection and old-age complications on October 15. After his condition improved, he was released two days later. He, however, was admitted again the following day and put on life support in the early hours of Wednesday, said his colleagues.
After his namaz-e-janaza on the Supreme Court Bar Association premises, the senior lawyer was laid to eternal rest at the capital's Banani graveyard in the afternoon yesterday. People of all walks of life went there to pay rich tributes to him.
He left behind his son Barrister Fahim-Ul Huq and a host of admirers. His wife Prof Farida Huq, whom he had married in 1960, died in 2011.
In separate condolence messages, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed profound shock at his death.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Law Minister Anisul Haq, his cabinet colleagues and other political leaders expressed condolences to the bereaved family.
In a career spanning over more than five decades, Rafique-Ul Huq took charge of many important and high-profile cases successfully, which earned him preeminence as a senior lawyer.
In 2007, he moved cases and fought legal battles on behalf of Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia before the Supreme Court after they were detained during the military-backed caretaker government.
Rafique-Ul Huq was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) of India in 1935 and obtained his law degree in 1960 from Calcutta University. He started practicing law at the High Court in Dhaka in 1962 and was made a senior advocate of the Appellate Division in 1975.
He served as the attorney general of Bangladesh from April 7, 1990 to December 17, 1990, and as the chairman of the Bar Council of Bangladesh that year.
He was the writer of various laws of this country. The eminent jurist was an elected member of the Executive Committee on International Taxation of the World Association of Lawyers. Besides, he was a member of the National Commission on Money, Banking and Credit, and chairman of Sub-Committee on Banking Laws under the Commission which wrote the current banking laws of Bangladesh, chairman of Corporate Laws Committee, member of the Company Law Reforms Committee and member of the Committee for Improvement of the Stock Exchange Market in Bangladesh.
Of his various roles as a social worker, Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq was a life-time member of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh and a member of its national council since 1976. He was also the vice-chairman of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh for the last 28 years, chairman of Management Committee of BIRDEM Hospital, member of Management Board of Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Dhaka (up to 1986) and Patron of Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Dhaka.
He was also a cabinet member of the Lions International, District 315. He discharged duties in various capacities, including zone chairman, chairman of Society for Education and Care of Hearing Impaired Children of Bangladesh; life-time member, Bangladesh National Society for the Blinds, Dhaka; founder of Dr Farida Huq Memorial Hospital, Chandra, Gazipur; founder of Jatir Pita Bangabandhu School and College at Chandra, Gazipur.
Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq was the founder of Subarna Mosque at Kaliakoir, Gazipur; patron and member of Dhaka Ahsania Mission's executive committee; chairman of Ahsania Mission Cancer Hospital; syndicate member of Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology; chairman of Ad-Din Hospital and Ad-Din Women Medical College; lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Dhaka University (part time); and lecture in Judges' Training Institute (to train district judges and joint district judges).
CONDOLENCES POUR IN
In a condolence message, President Abdul Hamid said Barrister Rafique-Ul had a huge contribution in establishing the rule of law in the country.
"Bangladesh has lost an eminent lawyer," said Hamid, who is now on an 11-day medical checkup in Dubai since October 14, reports BSS.
The head of the state prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family.
In her message of condolence, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, "Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq used to give advices on important issues regarding the Constitution."
The prime minister recalled his role with due gratitude as he came forward to fight legal battles to have her released from jail following her arrest in 2007 by the then caretaker government, adds BSS.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq discharged his professional duties with honesty and sincerity. He had always assisted courts over important laws and constitutional issues, the CJ added.
Law Minister Anisul Haq, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, lawyers, members of the civil society and different organisations also expressed shock at his death.
Several senior legal experts said the death created a vacuum in the country's legal arena.
Attorney General and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President AM Amin Uddin said Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq was a complete professional lawyer.
"He was a symbol of punctuality and professionalism as he would always appear before the court well prepared," he said.
The AG said Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq contributed immensely to the law profession and assisted the court by providing interpretation of laws and constitution in times of need.
Former SCBA president Zainul Abedin said with Rafique-UL's demise, the nation has lost one of its greatest lawyers.