Everyone knows that Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. Did he do this alone? Or, was there a second person also who shot at the Mahatma? For decades a conspiracy theory that Godse alone didn’t shot at the Mahatma has been doing the rounds. But without the stamp of the court, such theory could never become truth. A new twist to the story may come now, almost 70 years after the Mahatma was killed.
On Friday, a plea seeking the reopening of Mahatma Gandhi assassination case was accepted by the Supreme Court. Not only this, PTI reported that the apex court asked some searching questions on the plea seeking reopening of the probe into the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.
An SC bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao has appointed senior advocate and former additional solicitor general Amrender Sharan as an amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, which will be heard next on October 30.
PTI reported that during the initial hearing of the case, there was a view in the apex court that “nothing can be done in law” in the case that was decided several decades ago. However, the bench kept a window for the possible reopening of the case by telling Sharan that its observation was not binding on him to make an assessment of the matter.
According to the news agency, the petition for reopening of the case has been filed by Mumbai-based Dr Pankaj Phadnis, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat. He has sought the reopening of the case on many grounds, including a claim that this case was one of the biggest cover-ups in history.
Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead at point blank range in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a right-wing
advocate of Hindu nationalism.
When the bench asked what can it do in the case now, Padhnis said he has received some crucial documents relating to the case after filing the plea. He also sought additional time to file those documents.
“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, according to PTI.
Padhnis told the apex court 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.
However, Padhnis said, “The Supreme Court never adjudicated this matter.” He also alleged that that another another person might be involved in firing shots at Mahatma Gandhi. The bench responded, “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. Padhnis responded that Mahatma may have been killed by an organised body. However, the bench said, “we cannot convict an organisation. Do you know whether that person is alive?”
On June 6, 2016, the Bombay High Court had dismissed Padhnis’ PIL on two grounds. First, the findings of fact was recorded by the competent court and confirmed right up to the apex court. Second, the Kapur Commission has submitted its report and made the observations in 1969. Padhnis has challenged this decision in the Supreme Court.
Padhnis 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.
Padhnis has further claimed that the 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.