The Supreme Court was told on Monday that there was no need to re-investigate Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination as the conspiracy behind the murder and identity of assailant Nathuram Vinayak Godse who had fired the bullets have already been duly established.
Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, who was appointed as an amicus curiae to assist in the matter, has filed a report in the apex court and has said that claims regarding existence of British special intelligence unit by the name ‘Force 136’ and its alleged role in the assassination was not substantiated.
The report said that records of the case established that an independent judiciary had adjudged the crimes of Nathuram Vinayak Godse and other accused in the matter and justice was served.
Gandhi was shot dead at point blank range in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Godse, a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism. The assassination case had led to the conviction and execution of Godse and Narayan Apte on November 15, 1949.
Sharan has filed the report on the PIL by Mumbai-based Dr Pankaj Phadnis , a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, who has sought reopening of investigation on several grounds, claiming it was one of the biggest cover-ups in the history.
“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,” the report said.
“No substantive material has come to light to throw any doubt on any of the above requiring either a re-investigation of the Mahatma Gandhi murder case or, to constitute a fresh fact finding commission with respect to the same,” it said.
A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde is scheduled to hear the matter on January 12.
The petitioner has questioned the ‘three bullet theory’ relied upon by various courts to hold conviction of accused Godse and Apte, who were hanged, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who was given benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence.
Regarding the claim by the petitioner about the alleged fourth bullet, the amicus has said that as per records of the case, only three empty cartridges and two spent bullets were found at the place of occurrence and no fourth spent bullet or empty cartridge was found from there.
The report also said Godse was arrested at the spot with the murder weapon, a semi automatic Beretta pistol which could load seven cartridges at a time, and the records suggested that only three bullets were fired.
It said during the trial in the case, six eye-witnesses were examined and they all mentioned about three shots having been fired by sole assailant Nathuram Godse only.
“From the above documents, it is clear that there was no 4th bullet which was fired upon Mahatma Gandhi on the fateful day of January 30, 1948. Additionally, the other bullet alleged to be the fourth bullet was recovered from Gwalior and not from Delhi,” it said.
Dealing with the petitioner’s claims about Savarkar’s role, the amicus said that Savarkar was acquitted of charges of conspiracy by the trial court in the case and now it would neither be advisable nor possible to come to a definitive finding with respect to his alleged role in the assassination.
The report also dealt with certain remarks of the Justice J L Kapur Commission of Inquiry, which was set up in 1966, in the case.
On the allegations about conspiracy and role of ‘Force 136’, the amicus has said there was no documentary evidence in contemporary literature to prove that there even existed such a secret service and was mandated to carry out the murder.
“Furthermore, it is difficult to give any evidentiary value to the submissions regarding apprehension of Nathuram Godse by a CIA Agent named Herbert Reiner at the place of occurrence. Nor, any evidentiary value can be given to the statement made to Vijaya Laxmi Pandit (the then Indian ambassador to USSR) by the ambassadors of the various other countries regarding the involvement of the British,” it said.
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 observations in 1969, while the present petition has been filed 46 years later.