Khan Bahadur Sayyid Sir Fazl Ali, also known as Fazal Ali OBE (19 September 1886 – 22 August 1959) was an Indian judge,[1] the governor of two Indian states (Assam and Odisha), and the head of the States Reorganisation Commission which determined the boundaries of several Indian states in the 1950s.


Fazl belonged to an aristocratic Zamindar (landlord) family of Bihar state. He studied law and began practicing. Eventually he was raised to the judiciary. Sir Fazl Ali was successively given the title of Khan Sahib first and of Khan Bahadur later. In 1918, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He was knighted in the New Year's Honours list of 1941 and invested with his knighthood on 1 May 1942 by the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow.[2][3][4]

India became independent in 1947. Under the new dispensation, Fazl Ali was governor of Odisha from 1952 to 1956 and of Assam from 1956 to 1959. He died while serving as governor of Assam. Whilst in Assam, he made strenuous efforts to bring the disgruntled Naga tribals into the mainstream of society. He opened the first college in the Naga heartland in Mokokchung, which is today known as 'Fazl Ali College' in his honour. The College celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010.

Fazl Ali headed the States Reorganisation Commission that made recommendations about the reorganization of India's states. For his services to India, he was bestowed with the country's second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, by the government of India.

Family and personal life

Fazl Ali's eldest son, the late Syed Murtaza Fazl Ali, followed in the footsteps of his father and took up the profession of law. In 1958, at the age of only 35, he was elevated to the judiciary and appointed a judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. In 1966, he became the Chief Justice of the same court, thereby becoming one of the youngest holders of that high office; he was only 43. In 1975, he was made a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, thus making for a very rare instance of father and son both being supreme court judges in India. He died in 1985 while yet a sitting judge of the supreme court.

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Government offices
Preceded by
Jairamdas Daulatram
Governor of Assam
Succeeded by
Chandreswar Prasad Sinha