1956, many thought of Dr Radha Binod Pal as the head of an unofficial
inquiry panel to be sent to south east Asia and Japan to investigate
what had happened to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose after surrender
of Japan in August 1945.
Dr Pal, an internationally known jurist, had been a member
of the War Crimes Tribunal, the victorious allied powers had
appointed to try Japan's former government and military leaders.
As a judge of the War Crimes Tribunal, Dr Pal had studied
secret official Japanese documents of the relevant period.
That was why Dr Pal was thought of as eminently suitable for
conducting specific inquiry into the disappearance of Netaji.
An unofficial inquiry was proposed because the Prime Minister,
Jawaharlal Nehru, had not considered it necessary for ten
years to accept many requests for an official investigation
of the circumstances leading to Netaji's disappearance.
all its methodical approach and graphic details, the Shah Nawaz
Committee Report could not convince the people of India that
Netaji's had died. In hindsight, the first blow was dealt when
one member of the Committee, Netaji's elder brother Suresh Chandra,
distanced himself from the findings even as the report was being
Later, on September 12, 1956, Suresh Chandra went on to challenge
Pandit Nehru's remark in Parliament that the evidence collected
by the Committee was `overwhelming'. Bose dubbed the crash
theory as a fabrication of imperial Japan and asserted his
conviction that Netaji was alive.
At the centre of the disagreement were the very testimonies
that would have scotched all persisting queries. Discrepancies
and contradictions in witnesses' accounts turned the tables
on the Committee's 'factual' report.
So, it was only a matter of time that the demand for another
probe was raised. It made a comeback in the power circles
by mid-sixties and eventually some 350 MPs passed a resolution
in Parliament, asking for a fresh probe.
A one-man Commission headed by Justice Khosla was set up
on July 11, 1970. Incidentally, Justice Khosla also headed
three other commissions even as he tried to unravel the mystery
of Subhas Bose's disappearance. He took four years to give
his report which was nothing more than a summary of what Shah
Nawaz Committee had concluded in 1956.