শনিবার, ২৬ নভেম্বর ২০২২, ১০:০২ অপরাহ্ন
P.M. SERAJUL ISLAM:
Dr. Radhabinod Pal wsa an international justice, teacher, reformer, lawyer and Indian jurist. He was born at Salimpur in the district of Kushtia on 27 January 1886. He was just one of the 11 jurists of the International military tribunal set up after the 2nd word war, known as Tokyo trials, to punish the Japanese .Among all the judges of the tribunal, he was the only one who submitted a judgment which insisted all defendants were not guilty. The Yasukuni Shrine and the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine has monuments specially dedicated to Justice Pal. But the matter of sorrow that his ancestral house and others land about 150 Biga’s dispossessed in various way. There was no person to protect the lands.
He studied mathematics and constitutional law at Presidency College, Kolkata, and the Law College of the University of Calcutta. He worked as professor at the Law College of the University of Calcutta from 1923 till 1936. He became a judge of Calcutta High Court in 1941 and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta in 1944.
The Indian government installed him as a legal adviser in 1927 and dispatched him to the Tokyo Trials in 1946. He delivered one of the three dissenting opinions of the Tribunal. He found all the defendants not guilty of Class A war crimes, even though he condemned the Japanese war-time conduct as “devilish and fiendish”. He was highly critical of conspiracy and he was unable to apply such a new crime as waging aggressive wars and committing crimes against peace and humanity—Class A war crimes created by the Allies after the war—ex post facto. His reasoning influenced the dissenting opinions of the judges for the Netherlands and France.
Following the war-crimes trials, he was elected to the United Nations’ International Law Commission, where he served from 1952 to 1966. He is the father of renowned barrister, late Pranab Kumar Pal and the father-in-law of renowned lawyer Dr. Debi Prasad Pal.
While finding that Ôthe evidence is still overwhelming that atrocities were perpetrated by the members of the Japanese armed forces against the civilian population of some of the territories occupied by them as also against the prisoners of warÕ, he produced a judgment questioning the legitimacy of the tribunal and its rulings. He held the view that the legitimacy of the tribunal was suspect and questionable, because the spirit of retribution, and not impartial justice, was the underlying criterion for passing the judgment.
“I would hold that every one of the accused must be found not guilty of every one of the charges in the indictment and should be acquitted on all those charges.”
Pal never intended to offer a juridical argument on whether a sentence of not guilty would have been a correct one. However, he argued that the United States had clearly provoked the war with Japan and expected Japan to act (Zinn, 411).
Pal believed that the Tokyo Trial was incapable of passing a just sentence. He considered the trial to be unjust and unreasonable, contributing nothing to lasting peace. According to his view, the trial was the judgment of the vanquished by the victors; such proceedings, even if clothed in the garb of law, resulted in nothing but the satisfaction of the desire for vengeance. In his lone dissent, he refers to the trial as a “sham employment of legal process for the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge.” According to Norimitsu Onishi, while he fully acknowledged JapanÕs war atrocities — including the Nanjing massacre — he said they were covered in the Class B and Class C trials.
Furthermore, he believed that the exclusion of Western colonialism and the use of the atom bomb by the United States from the list of crimes, and judges from the vanquished nations on the bench, signified the “failure of the Tribunal to provide anything other than the opportunity for the victors to retaliate.” In this he was not alone among Indian jurists of the time, one prominent Calcutta barrister writing that the Tribunal was little more than “a sword in a wig”. Fear of American nuclear power was an international phenomenon following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Judge Pal’s typewritten book-length opposition to the decision was formally prohibited from publication by the Occupation forces and was released in 1952 after the occupation ended and a treaty recognizing the legitimacy of the Tokyo Trials was signed by Japan. Pal’s publication had also been prohibited in Great Britain, and it remained unpublished in the United States as well. However, a portion of his “original” judgment and copies of the original text in modern editions are available for sale online.
Pal’s lone dissenting opinion that Japan did not wage an aggressive, therefore illegal, war and its leaders cannot be prosecuted as war criminals was surprising and dismissed as a political ploy by his contemporaries. Pal was also an admirer of the Indian National Army (INA), an Indian army which collaborated with Japan to fight against Great Britain and liberate India from British colonization. Pal wrote that the Tokyo Trials were an exercise in victor’s justice and that the Allies were equally culpable in acts such as strategic bombings of civilian targets. In 1966, Pal visited Japan and said that he had admired Japan from a young age for being the only Asian nation that “stood up against the West.” Regardless of his political opinion, his legal reasoning was a landmark in international law and should more or less balance the charge that his dissent was politically charged.
In 1966, the Emperor of Japan conferred upon Pal the First Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Pal is revered by Japanese nationalists and a monument dedicated to him stands on the grounds of the Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism. The monument was erected after Pal’s death.
Justice Pal’s dissent is frequently mentioned by Indian diplomats and political leaders in the context of Indo-Japanese friendship and solidarity. For example, on 29 April 2005 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to it as follows, in his remarks at a banquet in New Delhi in honor of the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
He brought in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in his judgment as atrocities comparable with Nazi crimes. No wonder Justice Radhabinod Pal has the status of a national hero in Japan.
The writer is publisher and editor of law-related newspaper ‘the daily international’. He is also lawyer in Bangladesh Supreme court. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01716-856728