J. F. Ribeiro graduated in Commerce and Law from Mumbai University. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1953 and rose to be the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, from February 1982 to May 1985. Later he served in quick succession as Director General, Central Reserve Police Force, Director General of Police-Gujarat, Special Secretary to the Government of India's Home Ministry, Director General of Police – Punjab and finally Advisor to the Governor of Punjab. Besides other awards, he is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 1987. Post Retirement, he was appointed as Ambassador to Romania where he served for four years from 1989 to 1993. The then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had asked him to be Governor of Jammu & Kashmir but he declined because of his involvement in social work in his native city of Mumbai. He heads the Mohalla Ekta Committee, which seeks to bring about communal harmony between the diverse communities in the city of Mumbai.