On the 27th November 2002 the British High Court of Justice awarded equal compensation of £10,000 to all British Gurkha prisoners of war (PoWs) who had been held by the Japanese during the Second World War. Two years earlier, in November 2000, the British government had awarded the same compensation to all members of the British Army and its colonial forces (including widows) who had been Japanese prisoners of war. However Gurkhas had not been included in the November 2000 compensation package.The 2002 judgement came about following the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (GAESO) bringing a case of racial discrimination against the British Ministry of Defence (MOD), who had argued that its decision to exclude Gurkhas from being compensated in 2000 was based on the fact that prior to the Independence of India in 1947, the Gurkhas were part of the (British) Indian Army and in effect they suggested that there were no British Gurkhas involved in the Second World War(!).
The Honourable Justice McCombe, who presided over the hearing, ruled that the MOD had acted unlawfully and in a racist manner, saying:
The allocation to the Indian code of discipline was based upon race. No amount of semantic analysis of the ancient acts can hide that fact. The Gurkhas were excluded on the basis of a constitutional distinction which was in fact founded upon race.
The Honourable Justice McCombe, High Court of Justice, November 2002
This landmark judgement was to pave the way for the Gurkha Justice Campaign conducted by GAESO and a number of other Gurkha organisations, with the support of the actress Joanna Lumley (see 2009 Ex-Gurkhas Victory).