Shahabuddin Ahmed

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Shahabuddin Ahmed
শাহাবুদ্দিন আহমেদ
President of Bangladesh
In office
6 December 1990 – 10 October 1991
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Preceded by Hussain Muhammad Ershad
Succeeded by Abdur Rahman Biswas
In office
9 October 1996 – 14 November 2001
Prime Minister Hasina Wazed
Latifur Rahman (Acting)
Khaleda Zia
Preceded by Abdur Rahman Biswas
Succeeded by Badruddoza Chowdhury
Chief Justice of Bangladesh
In office
14 January 1990 – 1 January 1995
Preceded by Badrul Haider Chowdhury
Succeeded by Muhammad Habibur Rahman
Personal details
Born (1930-02-01) 1 February 1930 (age 87)
Pemal village, Kendua Thana, Netrokona, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now Bangladesh)
Education MA (International relations)
Alma mater University of Dhaka

Shahabuddin Ahmed (born 1 February 1930) is a Bangladeshi politician who served as the 12th President of Bangladesh. He also served as the Chief Justice of the country. He took over the office of President after a popular uprising against President Hussain Mohammad Ershad in 1991 for what constitution of the country had been amended through 11th amendment. After the resumption of democracy, he returned to his duties as the Chief Justice following the amendment. Later, he served as the President from 1996 to 2001. During his first time in the Presidential office, he served as Acting President. Later when he again took over the office in 1996 he became the 12th President.

Early life and education[edit]

Ahmed was born in 1 February 1930 in village Pamal of Kendua, Netrakona district. His father was Talukdar Resat Ahmed Bhuiyan, who was a philanthropist. After passing the Matriculation and intermediate examinations he took admission into the University of Dhaka in 1948, obtained BA (Hons) in economics in 1951 and MA in international relations in 1952 as a resident student of Fazlul Haq Hall. He attended a special course in Public Administration in University of Oxford.[1][2]


He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1954, completed training in the Lahore Civil Service Academy and in the University of Oxford. He was Sub-Divisional Officer of Gopalganj and Natore. He was Additional Deputy Commissioner of Faridpur. In 1960 was transferred to the judicial branch. He worked as Additional District and Session Judge of Dhaka and Barisal, and as District and Sessions Judge of Comilla and Chittagong. In 1967 he also served as Registrar of the High Court of the then East Pakistan in Dhaka. He was elevated to the Bench of the High Court on 20 January 1972. Acted on deputation at the Labour Appellate Tribunal for two years, 1973 and 1974.[2]

He was appointed a Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on 7 February 1980 and was confirmed in this office on 15 April 1981. He reputed to be a strong disciplinarian and hardworking officer all through and his disposal of cases in all branches of law is one of the highest in the country. A great number of his decisions have been reported in the Dhaka Law Reports, Bangladesh Legal Decisions and Bangladesh Case reports. In service matters' election disputes and Labour-Management Relation, some of his judgments and observation have been highly appreciated. His decision on the 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Bangladesh was hailed as a 'landmark' in the constitutional development of the country. There, among other things, he criticised the tendency of the Third World Dictatorships to abrogate Constitutions for self-aggrandizement and coterie rule under the thin veil of democracy, for curtailing fundamental rights of citizens, violation of human rights, challenge to people's sovereignty and denial of the independence of judiciary and substituting rule by Flat for rule of Law. He also deplored for curtailing the traditional powers of the High Court regarding the appointment, promotion, transfer, leave and control of subordinate judiciary by the Executive Branch of the Government.

He was the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry established under the Commission of Inquiry Act on police firing on the students in mid-February 1983. He was Chairman of the National Pay Commission in 1984 and submitted a report on the basis of which upward revision of pay scale was made.

As Chief Justice, he attended the International Appellate Judges Conference in Washington DC in September 1990. Ahmed took charge as Acting President of Bangladesh on 6 December 1990. He resigned on 9 October,'91. He resumed as Chief Justice on 10 October 1991. Chief Justice Ahmed retired from service on 1 February 1995.


He was chairman, Bangladesh Red Cross Society, from August 1978 to April 1982 in addition to his duties as Judge of the Supreme Court. As Chief Executive of the Red Cross Society, he reorganised and, particularly rebuilt the society. He set up a number of Rural Hospitals Maternity Centres, in particular, the Teligati Red Cross Hospital (Netrakona) which is financed by the Swiss Red Cross. He represented Bangladesh Red Cross Society in a number of international conferences and seminars which included, among others, the Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the Islamic countries (OIC) in Benghazi (Libya), a seminar on Red Cross and Primary Health Care in Frunze, Kirghizi (USSR), International Red Cross Conference in Jakarta and Manila, He was a member of the Bangladesh Government delegation to the 10th Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Islamic countries (OIC) held in Fez, Morocco in 1979 where the question of setting up an International Islamic Red Crescent Society was debated. He visited various Red Cross Societies Institutions of North Korea, China and Japan on invitations of the Red Cross Societies of North Korea, China and Japan in 1981. On his initiative the Family Planning and Population Control was included in the main function of the Bangladesh Red Cross.

Caretaker government (1990—1991)[edit]

After the resignation of the then President Hussain Muhammad Ershad on 6 December 1990, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh who was appointed Vice-President earlier on the day took over as the Acting President of the country. Ahmed was chosen by all political parties including Ershad to hold the interim government that would oversee the neutral election to Parliament. Immediately upon taking over the office of the highest executive, Ahmed placed his predecessor under arrest.

As the President, Ahmed administered the oath of office to his Council of Advisors at Bangabhaban on 9 December 1990 and held the first meeting on 15 December 1990. After the fifth JS elections held on 27 February 1991, Ahmed gave newly elected Prime Minister Khaleda Zia nearly all the powers that the constitution vested in the president--effectively returning Bangladesh to parliamentary rule. This move was formalised later in 1991, and soon afterward Ahmed returned to his previous post of chief justice. He retired from the court on 1 February 1995.

Ershad challenged the action of Ahmed to arrest him, which went all the way up to the Supreme Court. On a ruling, it declared the arrest was illegal. Ershad was in jail from 1991 to 1996.

President of Bangladesh (1996—2001)[edit]

Ahmed was elected President on 23 July 1996 and sworn in on 9 October 1996.[2] He retired from the office on 14 November 2001.[2] When the Awami League lost the Parliamentary Elections in 2001 he was dubbed a "betrayer" by Sheikh Hasina. He lamented "I am an angel if anything is done according to their desire, otherwise I am a devil."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ahmed is married to Anowara Begum. Together they have two sons and three daughters.[4]


  1. ^ "Special Remembrance: Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed". The Daily Star. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kazi Ebadul Hoque and Helal Uddin Ahmed. "Shahabuddin Ahmed". Banglapedia. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Ahmed, Salahuddin (2004). Bangladesh: Past and Present. APH Publishing. p. 273. ISBN 8176484695. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed". BangaBhaban. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Badrul Haider Chowdhury
Chief Justice of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Muhammad Habibur Rahman
Political offices
Preceded by
Hussain Muhammad Ershad
President of Bangladesh

Succeeded by
Abdur Rahman Biswas
Preceded by
Abdur Rahman Biswas
President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Badruddoza Chowdhury
Preceded by
Moudud Ahmed
Vice President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by