Dr. Radhabinod Pal – Loved by Japan and Forgotten by India


By: Venkatrao

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself facing a statue on the main Street of Tokyo wearing a Judge’s gown with a Bengali name inscribed below!

Forget about India, you will not find anything in entire West Bengal with his name in it. But the Japanese didn’t forget his contribution even after fifty years.

It was the 12th of November 1948. A trial was going on for a total number of 50 war criminals including Prime Minister Tojo, in a huge building in the outskirts of Japan which had lost the world war. Twenty eight out of them were identified as Class -1 war criminals (crimes against peace), if proven the only punishment would be death. Eleven prominent juries selected from all over the world were all pronouncing one by one….”Guilty”…. “Guilty ….” Guilty”… Suddenly someone announced in a thunderous voice “Not Guilty”!

There was a terrific silence in the hall! Who was this gentleman jury? His name was Dr. Radhabinod Pal.

Before going to Tokyo he had served in the Calcutta High court as a judge, as Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University for two years.

He was born in a very poor family in 1886 in Kushtia, East Bengal. Having lost his father in his childhood the mother took shelter in the house of a well-off family in the nearby village called Chuadanga. In exchange for boarding lodging mother would help with the house hold chores and the son would take the cows for grazing in the fields.

While doing this he would roam around the primary school and would peep through the classroom window once the teacher entered the room. One day an inspector of schools came from the city for school inspection. He asked a few questions to the students in the class. No one could answer; all of a sudden this boy called out from outside through the window, “I know the answers to all your questions.” Once called inside he answered to all the questions. The Inspector asked, “Which class you are in?” “I am not a student; I am a cowherd”, was the answer. The Inspector was dumbfounded with the reply. He called the Head Master giving him instructions for admitting him to the school as well as grant him scholarship.

That was the beginning. Radhabinod got admission in Presidency College Calcutta after passing out from school securing the highest marks in School Final Examination.

After obtaining M.Sc.degree in Mathematics he went on to do study law and obtained a Doctorate degree in law. About selecting two completely opposite subjects he would say, “law and mathematics are not so different after all.”

Let’s come back to the international court in Tokyo.

Doctor Pal convinced the rest of the juries with his irrefutable logic that the allied forces too violated the ethics and did not act with the restraint and impartiality of international law. Moreover, ignoring the Japanese offer to surrender they have used two extremely destructive atomic bombs and killed several thousands of innocent people. Even today these questions, raised then in 1948 by Dr. Radhabinod Pal, are valid in international law and unanswered. These valid questions raised by this brilliant person make suspect that very trial by the international court in general, and the role of U.S. in dropping the atomic bombs in particular.

Seeing his judgement spanning twelve hundred thirty two pages most of the juries down graded the accused from class – A to class – B thereby saving them from capital punishment.

This judgement in the International Court of Law brought him and India worldwide fame, although free India in 1948 or thereafter did not take notice of him and his achievement.

But Japan did not forget the contribution of this great man.

In 1966 Emperor Hirohito bestowed upon him the highest civil award of their country ” Kokko Kunshao”.

There are two roads named after him: one in in Tokyo and another in Kyoto.

His judgement has been included in the syllabus for law students.

His statue wearing a gown has been installed in front of the Supreme Court in Tokyo.

In 2007 the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his desire to meet the family members of Dr.Pal. Its said that a senior member of the Budhdhadev Babu’s cabinet came to his Dover Lane home accompanying Shinzo Abe. Seeing the name plate he had asked a police officer, ” just find out who was this man”!

But this was long back and expected of the Indian Communists who lauded Joseph Stalin and Soviet Union, and hated Japan, Tojo, Subhash Chandra Bose and everything connected with Japan during Second World War; surprisingly, even those who are in power now, do not know him!

27 January was the birthday of this great learned person of India !

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