Thursday, 13 December, 2018

SC begins hearing plea to reopen Gandhi's murder

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated
Melinda Barton | 07 October, 2017, 02:54

After their initial hesitation, the judges kept the case open after the petitioner revealed that he has applied to the National Archives and Research Administration of the US to declassify certain sensitive documents which might have a bearing on the case even today.

The Supreme Court has appointed senior lawyer Amrender Sharan as Amicus Curiae or impartial adviser, to examine whether there is scope for re-investigating Mahatma Gandhi's assassination in 1948. The petitioner, Pankaj Kumudchandra Phadnis, is a Mumbai-based consultant in IT-enabled education.

The top court asked several questions before asking Sharan to assist in the case.

The Supreme Court will hear the case again on October 30, by when Sharan is expected to submit his report. But before that could happen, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte who were members of an organization called the Hindu Mahasabha were hanged for the assassination on 15 November 1949.

Pointing fingers at British Secret Service Force 136, the petitioner has said that the Indian Ambassador to USSR was informed in February 1948 that the British had organized the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

At the outset, Phadnis sought some time to file certain additional documents to buttress his plea that reopening of investigation in the assassination case was required. These documents were in the National Archives and Research Administration, Maryland, US, and were yet to be decided for declassifying, he said. "Why should we re-open something which has been affirmed long back".

Dr. Pankaj Phadnis argued that the Privy Council in 1949 said that the Supreme Court must examine the case.

"The Supreme Court never adjudicated on this matter", Phadnis said and added that the Kapur Commission report never went to the apex court. A commission of inquiry was started in 1966 but could not fig up the entire conspiracy behind the assassination. "There is a possibility", Phadnis replied. You say that there was someone else, a third person who killed him (Gandhi). "Is that person alive today to face thetrial", the bench asked.

When the court asked the petitioner about the law of limitation, Phadnis said he was aware of it.

To this thebenche said, "we can not convict an organisation. Do you know whether that person is alive?" the bench asked.

Phadnis, however, said he did not know if that person is alive but investigation should be ordered to ascertain the truth.

When Phadnis said Reiner had died recently, the bench said, "Then who will give evidence?"