Mahatma Gandhi assassination: Supreme Cour appoints amicus curiae on plea seeking reprobe after 70 years

During the hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes, the apex court was initially of the view that "nothing can be done in law" in the case which has been decided long ago. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 7, 2017 8:08 am
Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi assassination, Gandhi assassination, Mahatma Gandhi murder, Nathuram Godse Mahatma Gandhi.

The Supreme Court on Friday appointed senior advocate and former additional solicitor general Amrender Sharan as amicus curiae on a petition seeking reprobe into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. After a brief hearing, a bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao appointed Sharan to assist the court in the matter.

During the hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes, the apex court was initially of the view that “nothing can be done in law” in the case which has been decided long ago. The court wanted to know “whether it is wise and legal to reopen” this case. The court reminded the petitioner about the law of limitation. However, it later told Sharan that its observation was not binding on him to make an assessment of the matter and posted it for further hearing on October 30.

The petition filed by Mumbai-based Dr Pankaj Phadnis, researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, has sought reopening of the probe on several grounds, including the “possibility” of involvement of more people in the murder. He said only a probe would reveal it and claimed it was one of the biggest cover-ups in history. He contended that the apex court never had a chance to examine the case of Gandhi, as convicts were hanged before it came into existence.

At the outset, Phadnis sought some time to file certain additional documents to buttress his plea that reopening of investigation in the assassination case was required. “What can we do now at this stage,” the bench asked the petitioner, who said that after he filed the plea, he has received certain crucial documents relating to the case. “Why should we reopen this now? We will give you as much time you want but you tell us why should we reopen a finding that has been affirmed,” the bench asked the petitioner.

When the court asked the petitioner about the law of limitation, Phadnis said he was aware of it. He said that appeals filed by the convicts in the assassination case were dismissed in 1949 by the East Punjab High Court, following which the Privy Council had sent the matter back on the ground that the Supreme Court of India will come into existence in January 1950. “The Supreme Court never adjudicated this matter,” Phadnis said.

When he said that another person might be involved in firing shots at Mahatma Gandhi, the bench said “we want to go by the law and not by political passion”. “You say that there was someone else, a third person who killed him (Gandhi). Is that person alive today to face the
trial,” the bench asked. Responding to the query, Phadnis said that assassination of Mahatma could have been carried out by an organised body. However, the bench sought to know about the identity of the person and said “we cannot convict an organisation. Do you know whether that person is alive?”

Phadnis, however, said he did not know if that person is alive but investigation should be ordered to ascertain the truth. At the fag end of the hearing, the bench told the petitioner that it needed legal assistance in the case and asked Sharan, who was present in the court room, to assist it in the matter. Sharan said he would assist the court and sought some time to go through the documents filed by the petitioner.

Phadnis has challenged the decision of the Bombay High Court which on June 6, 2016 had dismissed his PIL on two grounds — firstly, that the findings of fact have been recorded by the competent court and confirmed right up to the apex court, and secondly, the Kapur Commission has submitted its report and made the observations in 1969, while the present petition has been filed 46 years later.

In the petition, Phadnis has also questioned the ‘three bullet theory’ relied upon by various courts of law to hold the conviction of accused — Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged to death on November 15, 1949, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who was given the benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence. He has claimed that the Justice J L Kapur Commission of Inquiry set up in 1966 was not able to unearth the entire conspiracy that had led to the killing of Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism.

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  1. Katya Naidu
    Oct 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm
    Court In the headline
    1. Katya Naidu
      Oct 8, 2017 at 12:58 pm
      Court (headline)
      1. S
        Somnath Dhar
        Oct 7, 2017 at 10:26 am
        What is there to investigate now, every body knows in the world that Mr Mahatma Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse who is a member of Hindu terrorist organisation RSS, now I suppose by reopening the case Modi terrorist goverment will change the historical facts and try to prove that he is actually killed by some Muslim league member which is complete lie.
        1. B
          Oct 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm
          If SC wants such an old case to be re investigated then why did Gujarat HC turn down Zakia Jafri's request for the re investigation of Modi's involvement in Gujarat riots? Is it due to Modi's present position?
          1. ravi
            Oct 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm
            A lot of cases are pending in the judiciary and a lot of people languishing in the jail waiting for trial. Still Supreme courts finds time to hear Abhinav Bharat ( A jan sangh RSS offshoots). What Indian judiciary tries to justify ? Nathuram Godse and Hindu mahasabha was not behind the murder of Mahatma ! Gradually the Indian judiciary is fast losing its judicial capability and neutrality in important matter where country needs to look beyond time. Jan Sangha( now RSS) is trying to prove that Nathuram Godse was not killer.
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