Tribute to a legal luminary

Ravi Rohmetra
Judge Harbans Lal Bhagotra was born on 25th June 1916 in an affluent family of Mirpur . His father Lala Deewan Chand and grand father Kanshi Ram were renowned business man of, Mirpur. His mother Ram Khetri expired when Harbans Lal was one year old.  For his graduation, he joined Sanatam Dharam College, Lahore and Passed his B.A from Punjab University Lahore in 1935 in 2nd division.
The education in this college was a building stone for his subsequent career as recalled by him and his mental faculties got proper expression in subsequent years only due to his education from his college. He joined Law College Lahore, in1935 and got  his L.L.B with distinction from Punjab University Lahore.  After his LLB, Harbans Lal Bhagotra worked as an assistant with Pandit Roop Chand a lawyer, at Kotli for a couple of months in order to understand system and procedures in the courts and thereafter started independent practice as a
Lawyer in the court at Bhimber (Pok)
In December,1946, he appeared in, the competitive examination for Kashmir Judicial service and was selected on merit to be appointed as a Munsif Magistrate, first on leave vacancy at Mirpur and then  on a regular basis at R S Pura on 25th May1947. From , here onwards, he had to move various places in the state in quick . succession, He was posted as Sub-Register, Judicial, first at Jammu for a period of four months and then at Srinagar where  he remained posted for a period of six months. From Srinagar, he was sent as Munsif Magistrate Rajouri, after the town was recaptured, from the raiders. After a short stay at Rajouri, he was transferred to Reasi where he stayed as Munsif Magistrate in 1951.
In May 1951 he was posted as Deputy Registrar at high Court where he worked until mid of July 1955. In 1955 he became city Judge till 1958 when he was transferred ADM Kathua till June 1959 and then posted as Administrator Jammu Municipality till March 1961 and then on the same posted at Srinagar till December 1961. In December in 1961 he was posted as Secretary delimitation Commission (for Assembly constituencies) and special officer for a short span of six months. In April 1962 he was posted as ADM Jammu with additional powers. of special magistrate extending throughout Jammu and Kashmir for trail of one of the accused of Kashmir conspiracy case. On 1st August 1964 Judge Sahib was posted as 1st Session Judge of Anantnag district  against the newly ‘created post and worked there for one year and on 4th August 1965, he was posted as district and session judge Jammu and remained on this  prestigious position for a period of 4 years till 26-06-71 After retirement he was posted as one man commission to enquire into the charge of “food adulteration in jail and then special Judge state anti-corruption organization for a short period. He was made Director Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd from 1972 to 1980. He represented Jammu west constituency as MLA Janata Party from 1977 to 1983. He completed six years term  during those times.  He started his private practice in the state high court in Jammu in 1984 which continued till 2004.
Life partner of Judge Bhagotra Puhpa Devi left for her heavenly abode on 2nd December 1981. She was three years younger to Judge Sahib. Judge Bhagotra did not mention about these events to anyone even to his children. Judge Sahib was an embodiment of very high quality of heart. He was one of the senior most advocate of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir.
He retired from the J&K  Government service as District Session Judge and later elected as member of theJammu and Kashmir legislature. Judge Bhagotra by virtue of his unparalleled quality, enjoyed very high social status in the society in general and Mirpur Mahajan Community in particular.
He was very kind,  benevolent and sympathizer to all human beings irrespective of caste, colour and creed. The people out of love and affection and in recognition of his service to the suffering humanity bestowed on him the honour of being the president of many organization such as Mirpur Mahajan Sabha Jammu, Mirpur Refugee Committee, Mirpur Balidam Bhavan Arya Samaj Bakshi Nagar, Ram Mandir Committee Gura Bakshi Nagar, Mirpur Balidan Divas Celebration Committee, Home for the aged and Infirm Ambphalla, Jammu, Central Mahajan Sabha etc. A lawyer by training and Ex- Judge by profession he was affectionately known as “Judge Sahib” Application of the legal Knowledge for the welfare of individual and society at large was the sole moto of his life, By his sincere and wise counseling, he created a sense of better understanding among many married couples and saved them from divorce.
A philanthropist and a man empowered by noble. qualities Judge Sahib had established welfare Trust in the name of his Late parents as well as wife, by donating huge sum of his hard earned money and had also  constructed  a community hall for public function in the Sarwal sector of Jammu city.