People should be able to access Nathuram Godse’s statement in connection with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the national archives should disclose this and other related documents on its website. In the first place why hide a statement like this as people in a democracy are expected to be mature enough and now also have the explicit right to information (RTI). That was the whole purpose of Right to IInformation Act of 2005. The basic objective of the Right to Information Act was to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.
In fact, right to information is a fundamental right. This is a good move, and people in a democracy should be empowered to decide the right from the wrong by putting all information straight before them. If one of the main planks of democracy is transparency, then it is high time that a statement that has been kept under wraps for a long time should be disclosed to the people of the country.
The statement was being kept away for fear of damaging the image of Mahatma Gandhi. Maybe it is very incendiary, but people should be able to decide to agree or disagree with Godse’s statement. People cannot be denied the disclosure of the report. In a mature democracy people have a right to know both sides of the story.
It may be recalled that the order was passed by Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu on a petition filed by one Ashutosh Bansal after he sought the charge sheet and Godse’s statement, among other details, from the Delhi Police. The Delhi Police had forwarded the application to the National Archives of India, which asked Bansal to scan the records, but he approached CIC after he failed to get the information. Even Sridhar Acharyulu ruled that, “one may disagree with Godse and his co-accused, but we cannot refuse disclosure of his opinion. At the same time, neither Godse nor the holder of his opinion can go to the extent of killing a person whose philosophy he cannot agree with,” Acharyulu said in his order.