Bhawal Sanyasi case is a bizarre case. It is the most famous of all Indian cases. After about 12 years of death/ disappearance of a prince, a Sanyasi claimed to be him. Did the prince die or disappear; was the Sanyasi the prince or an imposter – these were the questions to be decided in a suit filed 21 years thereafter. In the suit, some facts were admitted and some were contested like hell.
I had read about the case in the legal history class as a law student in 1970 but did not go into the depth as better means of identification have come about. This year in January, Khoj International Artists' Association approached me to play the role of the judge in re-adaptation of the case. It was to be staged in Dhaka literary festival. For some personal reasons, I could not go but it piqued my interest.
The trial court had held Sanyasi to be the prince and the Calcutta High Court dismissed the appeal by 2-1. These judgements are not reported. The High Court dismissed the application for leave to an appeal to privy council and it is reported in AIR 1942 Calcutta 498. However, Privy Council granted leave but later dismissed the appeal after briefly recording the facts. The judgement is reported in AIR 1947 PC 17.