The son of a merchant from Bombay’s Muslim Sulaymani Bohra community, Abdullatif Camruddin Latif proved himself an exceptionally gifted scholar, in 1897 coming first of all candidates at Bombay University Intermediate Examinations. He travelled to study Law at St John’s College, Cambridge, graduating in 1902 with a double-first and numerous prized scholarships. He passed first into the ICS, was appointed Assistant Commissioner in Punjab, where he adopted the name Latifi, and progressed through administrative, judicial, secretariat, and political offices. After a spell as Director of Public Instruction in Hyderabad State from 1913–16, Latifi returned to the Punjab to serve as Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of various cities, and from 1921–26 as a Member of the new State Legislative Council.
Latifi was Joint Secretary of the British Indian delegation at the conference.
- 20th October 1930: Latifi had to field the complaints of Moonje, who objected to the preferential treatment given to the attendees of the foregoing imperial conference, who were introduced as guests of the government and accommodated in the best hotels, whereas RTC delegates had to make do with their allowance. (NMML. Moonje Diary)
- British Indian Delegates had the assistance of Secretariat staff, being Secretrary Sir Geoffrey Corbett and Joint Secretaries GS Bajpai and A Latifi
- 3rd February 1931: Latifi authored a note, published in the Manchester Guardian on behalf the Aga Khan, thanking the British public for their hospitality and kindness throughout the conference duration.
- 4th May 1931 from a note in the Reforms Office in New Delhi. Bajpai and Latifi were said to have a moderating influence over respective coreligionists on communal Q (National Archives 31.56)
- 8th June 1931, MacGregor of the India Office wrote to Latifi in Multan, congratulating him on his promotion and hoping he would return for the next RTC session and bemoaning the political inactions which had failed to capitalise on the excellent position at the end of the first session: “The Communal problem is our despair. Are the communities to persist in acting as members of factions or will they yet act as Indians? Their failure to come together in the interests of India, with Cawnpore and Benares as a background, is gravely affecting British opinion regarding full self-government. If the two Communities but recognised how greatly thy are jeopardising, or at least postponing Indian opportunities they would come to an agreement on the spot.” Settlement in India is was said to be desirable. “Failing that let us hope that the less hectic atmosphere of London will bring a settlement in the very earliest days of the meeting. Otherwise good-bye to some of the more glorious colours in the dream which has been ours.” (British Library I.1.1440)
- 23rd June 1931: Latifi replied to MacGregor that Irwin and Willingdon wanted him in London for the next RTC session but that “There are wheels within wheels in such matters at Simla, & often jealousy comes in.” He felt there was no chance of a communal settlement in India. “The Gordian knot will have to be cut in London. But things can & will be set right given adequate knowledge & experience & skilful handling.” (British Library. L.I.1.1330)
- 27th October 1931: Viceroy rejected Latifi’s request to be named as an Advisor, not Secretary, to the conference, on the basis that Corbett was a Secretary (British Library L.PO.6.91)
- September 1931: involved in detailed preparation for conference practicalities, including the issuing of wind screen labels to help vehicular access to St James’s Palace, managing delegate displeasure over press reporting, and the collection of a fund of thanks for chit messengers employed at the conference (NMML. Mitter Papers)
- March 1932: Latifi, along with Rama Rau, acted as Secretary for the RTC Consultative Committee, headed by the Viceroy, in New Delhi.
- 21st September 1932: Viceroy Willingdon sent a telegram to Hoare: Rama Rao would be needed in London while Latifi was not, as Secretaries. However, Muslim pressure was anticipated if Latifi not appointed. (National Archives 32.203)
- Latifi served the needs of the much smaller conference operating out of the House of Lords.
- 1934–37: Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab
- Retired in 1937
- 1942–44: Adjudicator in various Industrial Disputes, Bombay
- 1942–45: Member of the Defence Services Selection Committee, Bombay
- British Library, London: IOR/L/I/1/1440; IOR/L/PO/6/81
- Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi: Dr BS Moonje papers; PC Mitter papers.
- National Archives, New Delhi: REFORMS/1931/56/31-R; Reforms 1932 203 R.
- A. Latifi, “Letters to the Editor: The Round Table Conference”, Manchester Guardian (3 Feb 1931), p. 16
- Mark Devereux, “City and Guilds College plus Summer Vacation (1934)”, Retroblog of Najm Tyabji (1930+) (1 Jan 2009): https://nstyabji.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/city-and-guilds-college-plus-summer-vacation-1934/