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