Justice Mustafa Kamal was born in Domar, in the district of Nilphamari of Bangladesh on 30th December 1934 to a dignified Muslim family who was the son of the legendary folk singer of the sub-continent Abbas Uddin Ahmed and died on 5th January, 2015 at the age of 81.
He had a brilliant academic and outstanding legal and judicial career. He demonstrated excellence in each and every stage of his career. He stood 7th in order of merit in the matriculation examination from the Dhaka Collegiate School in 1948 and also secured 5th position on the merit list in the intermediate examination in 1950. He obtained BA (Hon’s) and MA degree on political science in 1953 and 1954 respectively securing the 1st position in the 1st class from University of Dhaka. Justice Kamal then went to the United Kingdom by availing a merit scholarship for higher studies from the government of the then Pakistan. He successfully completed a master’s degree at the London school of economics (LSE), University of London, a world renowned institution. He then completed the Bar-at-Law course and was called to the English Bar by the honourable society of Lincoln’s Inn in 1959.
On his return from abroad, Justice Mustafa Kamal started practicing law in the then High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan and developed a flourishing legal practice. He was a part time lecturer in law at the University of Dhaka from 1961 to 1968. He was appointed Additional Attorney General of the Bangladesh in 1976 and then Attorney General of Bangladesh in 1977. Justice Mustafa Kamal elevated to the position of judge of the High court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 1979. Subsequently, he was appointed as a Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in 1989. He was appointed as 10th Chief Justice of Bangladesh on 1st June in 1999 and he served in this position until the end of December 1999. Later, after his retirement, Justice Mustafa Kamal was an appointed Chair of the Bangladesh Law Commission on 6th December 2004 and he served in this position until 5th December 2007.
Justice Mustafa Kamal participated in many international seminars and conferences, representing Bangladesh in the United Nation. He was one of the draftsmen of India – Bangladesh Ganges Water Sharing Treaty that was signed in 1977. He was deeply connected in the field of law for a long period of more than four decades, both as a lawyer and Judge, and contributed enormous to the dispensation of fair justice. He did extensive writings and delivered scholarly speeches of high quality on a variety of subjects his noted two books are: Bangladesh constitution Trends and Issues in English and Amar Kisu Bola in Bangla. Justice Mustafa Kamal was a scholar of exceptional standing who devoted his life to continuous study and sophisticated thought in the realm of legal literature and jurisprudence. He was always vocal in establishing the rule of law in the country and keeping unharmed the independence of the Judiciary.
Justice Mustafa Kamal was a pioneer in establishing and promoting the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In 2003, he was appointed as a consultant for ADR by the then government and he had modules on ADR in 64 districts of the country. He may, thus, be called the “founder of the ADR” in Bangladesh. He attended various international seminars and symposia held at prestigious locations and delivered speeches on ADR.
Justice Mustafa Kamal was the most talented judge. He would be remembered for many things. Among them was his landmark judgment on the case of Secretary, Ministry of Finance Vs Masder Hossain (1999) 52 DLR (AD) 82 (popularly known as the Masder Hussain’s Case) which was a milestone case for the separation of power between the judiciary and the state and the independence of judiciary in Bangladesh.
Justice Kamal was a great judge of scholarly merit and a great thinker on question of legal theology. He imparted wisdom, creativity and progressiveness to the judiciary for more than 20 years. His judgments remain as exemplary documents to his successors, standing out both in style and content. His legal activities and judicial pronouncements are still treated with reverence. Through his bravery and boldness, he placed himself in the legal history of Bangladesh.