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Plea seeks reopening of Gandhi’s murder probe

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Oct 7, 2017, 6:09 am IST
Updated : Oct 7, 2017, 6:10 am IST

The petitioner said the investigation into the murder of Gandhi represents the biggest cover up in the history of India.

Mahatma Gandhi
 Mahatma Gandhi

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday appointed senior advocate Amarendra Saran to assist the court to decide a petition seeking further probe into the assassination of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on January 30, 1948.

A bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, without deciding the petition filed by Pankaj Kumarchandra Phadnis on merits, asked Mr Saran to examine whether the materials furnished in the petition warranted interference by the apex court.

The petitioner 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 of Gandhi has no basis in law and facts. On the other hand, there is a compelling need to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the murder of Mahatma Gandhi by constituting a new commission of inquiry.

The petitioner, who argued himself, brought to the notice of the court that further probe was necessary by constitution of a new commission of inquiry to investigate the larger conspiracy behind the murder of Gandhi. The petitioner also sought to ascertain the veracity of the finding of the trial court and Punjab high court that three bullets were fired by Godse from the gun at Gandhi when the material facts on record show that four bullets were fired.

He also disputed the correctness of several observations made by the Kapur Commission, which was set up in 1966, saying they were again contrary to the evidence available on record. Some of the observations and findings of the Kapur Commission Report were factually incorrect, contrary to principles of natural justice and barred by res judicata. Further, the petitioner believes that the Kapur Commission did not deal with evidence presented before it by credible witnesses in respect of the larger conspiracy behind the murder of the Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr Phadnis told the court that New York Times reported that one Thomas Reiner, vice-counsel of the US embassy was the one who apprehended Godse.

However, the prosecution made no mention of Thomas Reiner in the Gandhi murder trial. He said he had asked for a document from the national archives in the US to drive home his assertion that further probe was necessary.

Justice Bobde reminded the petitioner that there was question of limitation even in criminal cases and they can’t be re-opened.

When Dr Phadnis said there were more than two persons other than Godse and his accomplice and it could be an organisation called British Secret Service Force 136, Justice Bode said, “We can’t punish an organisation. There must be a human being who is alive for prosecution.”

When he said that the truth should be unearthed, as it would improve the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, Justice Bode said, “We appreciate your great passion for a cause. Your motive and desire to have peaceful relations with Pakistan may be noble, but we can’t go into the political aspect. We can’t re-open the investigation on that basis when the matter has attained finality.”

Dr Phadnis said after the sessions court’s conviction was upheld by the Bombay high court, the matter went to the Privy Council, which remitted the case back to India to be decided by the Supreme Court, which came into existence on January 26, 1950. However, the two convicts were hanged to death on November 15, 1949 and hence the Supreme Court did not have an occasion to decide the case on merits.

In his appeal against the Bombay high court order refusing to interfere, the petitioner said the difference between three and four shots is material. The pistol with which Godse shot Gandhi had a seven-bullet chamber. Three shots were fired and the police recovered the remaining four unspent bullets. There was no way the fourth shot could have been fired from the said pistol. It had to be from the gun of a second assassin, no trace of whom survives in any record.

He contended that there was also no post-mortem report conducted on the body of the Gandhi. The petitioner said he came across evidence of a sinister British secret service, Force 136, that had authorisation to murder Subhash Chandra Bose. The Force 136 had a policy of destroying records of its agents. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on October 30.

Tags: mahatma gandhi, veer savarkar, supreme court