Justice Nariman emphasizes fair trials for all accountable for war crimes, regardless of winning nation affiliation.

Last Updated: 18-10-2023 03:43:13pm
Justice Nariman emphasizes fair trials for all accountable for war crimes, regardless of winning nation affiliation.

In a recent lecture, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Nariman expressed the belief that all individuals responsible for war crimes should be held accountable in post-war trials, regardless of their affiliation with the victorious or vanquished country. Justice Nariman emphasized that achieving universal peace is only possible if every person involved in war crimes is prosecuted.

He suggested that those responsible for war crimes should be arraigned without considering the nation they belong to. Justice Nariman argued that as human beings, we can only hope for universal world peace if we take this approach, which has eluded us thus far and may continue to do so in the near future.

The judge proposed the establishment of a charter and a panel of judges, preferably constituted by a neutral organization such as the United Nations (UN), to handle the prosecution of war criminals. He envisioned a future where a charter outlining war crimes is drafted by an organization like the UN, eliminating any accusations of ex post facto actions. Additionally, he stressed the importance of having judges from neutral countries to avoid inherent biases that may arise if the victor nation decides the fate of the vanquished. These neutral judges could be appointed by the UN Charter or another global body.

Justice Nariman delivered this lecture titled 'The Nuremberg & Tokyo Trials - The Rule of Law Vindicated' at an event organized by the High Court Bar Association (HCBA) at the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. The event was held in memory of Senior Advocate late Vinod Bobde and was part of a lecture series by the team study circle of the HCBA. During his speech, Justice Nariman extensively discussed the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials that took place at the end of World War II, highlighting their failure to adhere to the principles of the rule of law.

He provided an explanation regarding the trials, which comprised of two distinct panels of judges representing the victorious nations of the war, namely Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States of America (USA).

Following a concise overview of both trials, he highlighted the dissenting viewpoints expressed by specific judges in both proceedings, which underscored the arbitrary nature of the prosecution conducted by the tribunals

  • Italians had not been indicted as defendants, despite having engaged in warfare similar to Germany.
  • Japanese Emperor Hirohito was spared from facing trial, as the United States desired to establish Japan as an American protectorate, thereby ensuring Hirohito's continued reign as Emperor. Justice Nariman elucidated that such a scenario would not have transpired had German Führer Adolf Hitler been alive.
  • The offenses perpetrated by the United States through the deployment of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have never been subjected to thorough investigation, primarily due to the fact that the trials were conducted by the victorious nations.

Furthermore, Justice Nariman highlighted the intriguing dissenting viewpoint of Indian judge Justice Radhabinod Pal, who served as one of the judges on the Tokyo trial tribunal. Justice Nariman emphasized that Justice Pal's dissent, spanning an extensive 1,200 pages, posited that the 'victors' involved in the case should also face indictment, as their bombings resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 civilians.

Justice Nariman drew attention to the paramount fact that the 'victor' appears to be administering their own form of justice. He questioned the existence of justice and the rule of law if the 'victor' is allowed to dispense their own version of justice.

TAGS: Justice Rohinton Nariman War Crimes World War II Tokyo Trial

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