Mahbubey Alam, Bangladesh’s longest-serving attorney general, dies aged 71

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-09-27 20:00:06 BdST

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, the longest-serving chief legal officer of the state, has died at a Dhaka hospital at the age of 71 after suffering from COVID-19 illness.

He breathed his last in intensive care at the Combined Military Hospital at 7:25pm on Sunday, his son Sumon Mahbub told bdnews24.com.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have led the nation in paying tributes to Alam, remembering the role he played in the judiciary of Bangladesh and offering sympathies to the grieving family.

The attorney general had been fighting for his life in “critical” condition at the CMH, his son-in-law and Supreme Court lawyer Sheikh Mohammad Reajul Hoque said earlier.

Alam was put into intensive care at the hospital after his vital signs worsened during treatment on Sep 18.

He was hospitalised with a high temperature on Sept 4 and later tested positive for COVID-19. He has remained in hospital care ever since.

Law Minister Anisul Huq had earlier said Alam had a rapid pulse. He had the problem beforehand but never informed the doctors about it, Anisul had said.

The minister had also said the last coronavirus test on Alam had come back negative.

A former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, he began practising law in 1975.

Mahbubey Alam speaking to the media after the verdict of a war crimes case in 2013.

Mahbubey Alam speaking to the media after the verdict of a war crimes case in 2013.

He had been the attorney general of the country since 2009. He is survived by his artist wife Binota Mahbub, journalist son Sumon, and lawyer daughter Shishir Kona.

As the state’s chief legal officer, he played an immensely significant role in ensuring the trial of the crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

He also played a key role in a number of crucial cases, including those involving the Fifth, Seventh, 13th and 16th Amendment to the constitution.     

He was involved in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman murder case.

Alam worked as the state’s chief counsel in the case over the killings during the BDR mutiny.

Born in Munshiganj’s Louhajang on Feb 17, 1949, he graduated in political science from Dhaka University in 1968.

He received a degree in public administration the next year and completed LLB in 1972.

He had been involved in leftist politics as a student and later worked as a vice-president of Bangladesh Youth Union.

When the Communist Party of Bangladesh split following the fall of the Soviet Union, Alam quit politics and devoted his time as a lawyer.

He was listed as a lawyer on Bangladesh Bar Council and became a member of Dhaka Bar Association in 1973.

Mahbubey Alam at a book launch at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair in 2019. Photo: Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman

Mahbubey Alam at a book launch at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair in 2019. Photo: Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman

Alam became a lawyer of the High Court in 1975 and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in 1980. He was listed as a senior lawyer of the Appellate Division in 1998 and had advised the court as an amicus curie.

He was elected the general secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association in 1993-94 and worked as an additional attorney general for three years from 1998.

He had been the president of the SCBA before the 2007-’08 emergency.

Many top lawyers backed off when Hasina was arrested during the military-controlled government, but Alam stood firm.

That was the apparent reason behind Hasina choosing him as attorney general in January, 2009 after the Awami League returned to power.

Alam had sought to become the party’s candidate for a Munshiganj seat during the last parliamentary election, but Hasina insisted he continued as attorney general.   

He received a diploma degree in constitutional law, and parliamentary institution and system from the Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies in New Delhi in 1979.

The popular lawyer toured India, Sri Lanka, France, the Netherlands, the United States, Egypt, Italy, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Tanzania and many other countries to attend seminars and symposiums.

He was an avid fan of Rabindranath Tagore.

President Hamid in a condolence message described Alam as a “frontline fighter” in the establishment of the rule of law whose demise is an “irrevocable loss” to the nation’s judiciary.

Hamid also praised Alam for conducting the Bangabandhu murder and war crimes cases with “profound skill”. 

Hasina said Alam will always be remembered as a shining example of justness in the legal profession.