Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dilemma of an I.N.A. accused and Dr. Katju's advice

Generals Gurbux Singh Dhillon, Shah Nawaz Khan, and Col. Sehgal, of the I.N.A. were put up on trial before a Military Tribunal in 1945 in the Red Fort, Delhi along with others for waging war against the King.

The accused had the privilege to make a written statement to the Tribunal. In this connection General Dhillon has written :

" During those days Dr. Katju often used to ask me to recite some of my poetical compositions like 'Chalo Delhi' or ' Netaji ka Farman desh bhakton ko'. 

One day I took Dr. Katju aside and asked : 'Sir, what is your advice? What should I say in my statement ?". He said 'Gurbux, say whatever your conscience tells you'.

I said ' Doctor Saheb,you are my counsel. Can't you help me make a decision ? Isn't it part of your duty ? Please advise me whether I should tell the truth or a lie.'

It was probably Saturday when the aforesaid conversation took place. Dr. Katju told me that he would think it over and advise me on Monday.

Monday came, and when I approached him, he said ' Sorry, I have not been able to make up my mind what to advise you'

I said 'Doctor Saheb, can I ask you after two days?' He said yes, and was happy that I left him alone.

During the next two days I thought about the matter, and decided not to admit the charge. When I met Dr. Katju I asked him 'Sir, what is your advice ?. He said ' Gurbux, it is a difficult problem, I have not been able to make up my mind '.

I said ' but I have '.

Dr. Katju then asked me what I had decided, and I said that I had decided to tell a lie. He asked 'why ?'.
I said ' Among the principles of war there is one : mystify and mislead the enemy. This Court, consisting of British army officers, is the prolongation of the battlefield where I had been fighting, and the members of the Court are as good as my enemies now as they were on the battlefield. Therefore I have a right to mystify and mislead them. My first duty is to save my men. I cannot please my conscience by telling the truth, and as a result endanger the lives of my junior officers and men'.

Dr. Katju attentively listened to me and then said : 'I am glad you have taken a decision'. 

' Do you agree with me ?', I asked.

Dr. Katju repeated ' I am glad you have taken a decision', and saying this walked away.

I felt I had fallen low in his esteem.. How great, noble and upright were those legal luminaries who would not advise their clients to withhold truth even in the face of a certain capital punishment.

In the evening, after last post, I retired to my tent, and closing the flies of the tent I sat down to write my statement. By daybreak it was ready, and I handed it over.

Today as I write these memoirs after a lapse of half a century, I confess that in spite of all arguments, I should have told the truth. I do feel sorry for having told a lie."


  1. Fascinating story. Which Dr. Katju is referred to here, what is his relationship to Justice Markandey Katju, and where and when did Gen. Dhillon write this? I suggest that this information should be included in the blog post.

    1. He was my grandfather. I do not know when Gen. Dhillon wrote this