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Mahatma Gandhi assassination case: Amicus curiae files report, says no need to reinvestigate

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated 70 years ago on January 30, 1948, by Nathuram Godse and two persons (including Godse) were hanged for their role in the murder.

Written by Seema Chishti | New Delhi |
Updated: January 8, 2018 9:05:54 pm
Hegel’s India: A Reinterpretation with Texts, Akash Singh Rathore, Riminia Mohapatra, Oxford University Press, book review, indian express book review Mahatma Gandhi in Madras in 1933 during his nationwide tour to campaign against untouchability. (Archives)

Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, appointed amicus curiae last October to assist the Supreme Court in a public interest litigation seeking re-investigation into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, has rejected the need for a fresh probe or a fact-finding commission, saying no substantive material has come to light to cast doubts on the investigation into the Mahatma’s murder.

In a report submitted to the Supreme Court Monday, Sharan has come to the conclusion that the “bullets which pierced Mahatma Gandhi’s body, the pistol from which it was fired, the assailant who fired the said bullets, the conspiracy which led to the assassination, and the ideology which led to the said assassination, have all been duly identified”.

This report comes in the wake of a petition by Pankaj Phadnis, co-founder of Abhinav Bharat, who suggested a foreign conspiracy involving ‘Force 136’, the presence of a second assassin and a ‘fourth bullet’ fired at the Mahatma on January 30, 1948.

On the theory of the ‘fourth bullet’, the amicus curiae’s report points to the inquest report following the assassination and the six eyewitnesses present at the trial, none of whom speak of more than three bullets or the presence of a second assassin. The Beretta used to kill Mahatma Gandhi had a provision for seven bullets and four were found intact. The report details the injuries and the medical records that do not speak of a ‘fourth bullet’.

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The amicus curiae, rejecting the contention that the conspiracy to kill Gandhi was by a person other than Nathuram Godse, has detailed aspects of the conspiracy and how it followed an unsuccessful attack on January 20, 1948: “Thereafter, Nathuram V Godse & Narayan Apte travelled from 20.01.1948-28.01.1948 from Delhi to Gwalior via Kanpur, Bombay and Thane in search for a suitable weapon of assault… It is pertinent to mention here that, during the entire episode of the unveiling of the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi, no suggestion has been put by any of the advocates, either from the defence or prosecution or by the Ld. trial court, that there was a larger conspiracy involving others apart from those accused.”

Referring specifically to the ‘foreign’ conspiracy theory and the ‘Force 136’ cited by the petitioner, Sharan’s report states: “A bare perusal of the record of the case establishes beyond doubt that an independent judiciary adjudged the crimes of Nathuram Godse and others and justice was served. There is no documentary evidence in contemporary literature to prove that there even existed such a secret service by the name of ‘Force 136’ and that it was mandated to carry out the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus, any reliance upon such theories would be unwarranted.”

The amicus curiae records the receipt of a letter and an affidavit dated December 2, 2017 on December 4 from one Dr Nene who claimed to have treated the so-called second assassin of the Mahatma in the late 1950s. That material, asserts Sharan’s report, has no evidentiary value in a court of law after sixty years, especially as Dr Nene had the opportunity to appear before the Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission, which was appointed in 1965 to inquire into the assassination, and again when a similar petition came up before the Bombay High Court in 2016.

In his petition to the Supreme Court last year, Pankaj Phadnis said: “The investigation into the murder of Gandhi represents the biggest cover-up in the history of India. The blame on Marathi people in general, and Veer Savarkar in particular, for being the cause of the death has no basis in law and facts. On the other hand, there is a compelling need to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the murder by constituting a new Commission of Inquiry.”

A similar petition by Phadnis before the Bombay High Court was rejected in June 2016. The matter is slated to come up before the Supreme Court on January 12.

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