“It was important for a lawyer to focus on getting justice for his client. This has to happen no matter if the brief was high or low profile, or whether the client was rich or poor.”
These concluding words of When Mercy Seasons Justice, a biography of Habibullah Badsha by V Sriram, verily sum up the message left behind by the veteran advocate.
Released to mark Habibullah Badsha’s first death anniversary, the book traces his lineage to the 18th century. The great-grandfathers of Habibullah Badsha, who were successful businessmen, travelled across the globe for trade. In fact, it is believed that the family owned a diamond mine as well, though its whereabouts and what became of it are unknown.
Coming from such a lineage, it becomes a difficult legacy to carry and best. But that is what Habibullah Badsha did in his life time.
The first chapter is peppered with interesting nuggets about the Badshas. Habibullah Badsha’s early days were filled with the values he learned from his caring mother and through education. When Habibullah married Shyamala Rajagopal, a Hindu, it raised many eyebrows. But the couple set an example for love transcending faith.
The book quotes Habibullah as saying, “My marriage to Shyamala was the best decision I took in my life for, as the years rolled by, we found that life was exciting in the company of each other.” The couple had three children.
The book narrates the professional life of Habibullah in the world of law and some of the high-profile cases he battled.
He is well-remembered for his generosity by his friends who share numerous inspiring anecdotes with the author. Habibullah fought many cases pro bono in his career. The writer also regales readers with Habibullah’s work with many organisations, re-telling his altruistic deeds.
Photos fill the pages, capturing his work and personal life. In one of the chapters, Dr Pratap C Reddy, founder of the Apollo Group of Hospitals, remembers Habibullah as “most helpful not only on legal aspects but also on how to negotiate the bureaucratic set-up in Delhi”.
As Habibullah was one of the founding directors of Apollo Hospitals, he used his power to treat some patients free of cost.
The book takes a personal turn in the final chapters when the writer asks Habibullah’s family how they remember him as a father and grandfather.
By the time you are done reading the book, you understand not just Habibullah, but also how a lawyer should be. This book will serve as a source of inspiration for many aspiring advocates.