‘Many facts about Godse trial not known to world’

Lawyer who revisited trial records says kin kept godse in the dark about appeals

Mumbai | Updated: February 11, 2014 1:55 pm
Legal historian Rajan Jayakar Legal historian Rajan Jayakar

After Nathuram Godse was sentenced to death for the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Godse’s family members had appealed before the privy council in London and had also sought mercy from the then governor-general.

This is among the lesser-known facts related to Godse’s trial for Gandhi’s murder, said lawyer Rajan Jayakar, who studied the original records of the trial while curating an exhibition to mark the Supreme Court of India’s golden jubilee in 2000.

“I had written to the then Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to send the papers to Delhi. The voluminous record arrived in seven-eight wooden boxes,” said Jayakar.

Now, 66 years after the assassination of Gandhi on January 30, 1948, Jayakar, a conservationist of legal heritage based in Mumbai, said there were a number of aspects of the trial that remain lesser known.

Godse had himself never sought clemency but members of his family had probably kept him in the dark about their subsequent appeals for mercy, said Jayakar. The P&H High Court had, on June 21, 1949, confirmed Godse’s death sentence in a 315-page judgment.

Jayakar explained, “The privy council was part of the British Parliament. While appeals from England were heard by the House of Lords, those from British colonies were heard by the judicial commission of the privy council.”

Jayakar said that on October 26, 1949, the privy council did not grant leave (permission to file the petition) to the families of the accused, including Godse, who had filed the SLP.

“They had refused to grant leave on the ground that even if they did admit the petition, it would not have been decided before January 26, 1950 when the Indian Supreme Court was to be born.” Once the Supreme Court of India came into existence, the jurisdiction to hear the SLP would lie with it.

The day the privy council turned down the petition of the families, the death warrants against Godse and Narayan Apte were issued and November 15, 1949 was set as the date for the execution.

The families of Godse and Apte filed a mercy petition with the then Governor-general C Gopalachari on November 5, 1949. But on November 7, 1949, he dismissed the petition, declining to interfere in the matter. Godse and Apte were hanged in the Ambala prison,” said Jayakar.

“Three accused, Gangadhar Dandawate, Gangadhar Jadhav and Suryadev Sharma were not traced and declared absconders. Till date nobody knows what happened to them,” said Jayakar.

mayura.janwalkar@expressindia.com

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  1. B
    Bhushan Shirgaonkar
    Sep 3, 2016 at 11:25 am
    Who killed hi? lt;br/gt;Who controlled Godse? This is a great mystery question. Was hiji 'ination pre planned by conspirators who remain unknown. Was para normal force like telepathy involved?
    Reply
    1. T
      Tats
      Aug 11, 2015 at 2:49 am
      Ohh I sooo wish Godse was alove even today... What more would have been a burning punishment for him but to see India being a Secular country, Muslims-Hindus living in harmony, and Mahatma hi being called the "Father of Nation" being printed on notes...
      Reply
      1. M
        Mohan
        Feb 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm
        It is now clear that that Godse and co-accused did not get a fair trial from the system. Godse's SLP to the Privy Council whose Judicial Commission ought to have heard it had DISMISSED it without admitting ON 26/101949 ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE EVEN IF THEY ADMIT IT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN A POSITION TO GIVE THE VERDICT BEFORE 26TH JANUARY 1950 WHEN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA WAS SET TO COME INTO BEING AND FROM THAT DATE THE JURISDICTION WOULD LIE WITH IT. Since a duly consuted Appellate Authority was in place it was DUTY bound to have heard Godse and IF a verdict did not come about BEFORE 26/1/1950 the case would have got transferred to the SC of India on 26/1/1950 where it would have been heard abinitio. Just look at the speed at which the Nehru led Congress led government of the day had moved. On THE VERY DAY the Privy Council had declined to hear Godse's SLP ( on materially unsound ground as explained above - leading to a miscarriage of justice) the death warrants were issued. And the date of execution was fixed as 15/11/1949. The mercy peion filed by the families on 5th Nov 1949 were declined by the Governor General on 7th Nov 1949 ( WITHIN 2 DAYS. Compare this with how Congress Government dragged its feet over Afzal Guru or Kasab ) The little known fact of Godse trial is that HE WAS DENIED THE LAST APPEAL WHICH AS PER LAW WAS HIS LEGAL RIGHT
        Reply
        1. M
          Mohan
          Feb 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm
          Why didn't this man also reveal that the accused were DENIED equality before law by the Nehru led government of the day by extending the Bombay Public Security Measures Act to Delhi RETROSPECTIVELY before consuting the Special Court to try the accused. Thus they were denied a trial by jury which was in vogue till early sixties and was abolished during Cmdr NANAVATI's case. The Nehru led Government had also muzzled the press from printing and letting the people know what Godse had to tell the Judges. Is it not a fact that Justice G.D.Khosla one of the Judges of the then Punjab High Court at Simla who heard the appeal later wrote " I have,however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been consuted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have brought a verdict of 'not guilty' by an overwhelming majority"(Please not Gode had appealed only against the conspiracy angle and NOT against his conviction or punishment)
          Reply
          1. M
            Mohan
            Feb 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm
            Why didn't this man also reveal that the accused were DENIED equality before law by the Nehru led government of the day by extending the Bombay Public Security Measures Act to Delhi RETROSPECTIVELY before consuting the Special Court to try the accused. Thus they were denied a trial by jury which was in vogue till early sixties and was abolished during Cmdr NANAVATI's case. The Nehru led Government had also muzzled the press from printing and letting the people know what Godse had to tell the Judges. Is it not a fact that Justice G.D.Khosla one of the Judges of the then Punjab High Court at Simla who heard the appeal later wrote " I have,however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been consuted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have brought a verdict of 'not guilty' by an overwhelming majority"(Please not Gode had appealed only against the conspiracy angle and NOT against his conviction or punishment)
            Reply
            1. R
              rameez
              Oct 12, 2014 at 2:07 am
              haha
              Reply
              1. S
                skumar
                Feb 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm
                If Sonia/Indira/nehru were given choice they would have granted clemency to get votes from Godse's community
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sriram Ramanathan
                  Feb 11, 2014 at 4:42 am
                  The Governor General's name was C Rajagopalachari
                  Reply
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