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Will not go by sentiments to reopen investigation into Mahatma Gandhi's assassination: SC

The apex court said the plea seeking retrial of the case was based on academic research but that cannot from the basis to reopen the matter which happened years ago.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Published on: March 06, 2018 18:53 IST ]
File picture of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today was virtually categorical that it was not going to reopen investigations into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi or correct the verdict in that case.

 
The apex court, which reserved its order on a plea, made it clear that it would not go by "sentiments" but rely on legal submissions to decide on a petition seeking re-investigation of the assassination, which has been dubbed by Mumbai-based petitioner Dr Pankaj Phadnis as one of the biggest cover-ups in the history. 

The apex court said the plea seeking retrial of the case was based on academic research but that cannot from the basis to reopen the matter which happened years ago. 

The petitioner had also questioned the 'three bullet theory' relied upon by various courts to hold the conviction of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged. He had contended that there was a need to examine whether there was a fourth bullet also, which was fired by someone else than Godse. 

"You said people have the right to know about what happened. But it appears that people already know about it. You are creating suspicion in the minds of the people. The fact is that the people who committed assassination have been identified and hanged. 

"It (the incident) is too late in the day. We are not going to reopen or correct it. Don't get sentimental about the matter. These are not matters to show emotions. We will go by the legal submissions and not emotions. We have heard you and will pass order," a bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said while reserving its order . 

At the outset, Phadnis, a trustee of charitable trust Abhinav Bharat, who sought the retrial, faced searching questions from the bench about his prayers in the petition. 

He said he had sought the expunction of "adverse, unfounded" remarks made by the Kapur Commission in 1969 report against Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the setting up of a commission to find out the conspiracy behind the incident. 

Phadnis alleged that the Maratha community has been "maligned" due to these adverse remarks which should hence be removed. He said there should be retrial of the case which led to the conviction and execution of Godse and Apte on November 15, 1949. 

The court, however, said it did not share his sentiments that Marathas have been maligned and observed,"Maratha people have survived inspite of all this. You are talking about two persons who happened to be from Maharashtra. They do not represent the state. Observation about two persons does not malign whole Marathis ". 

The top court also said that it has not stopped the petitioner from doing research in the case and "bring out the truth"to the world, but as far as the court was concerned, it was not sure if this petition could be entertained. 

Senior advocate Amarender Sharan, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said retrial of Mahatma's assassination case was not needed as the judgement in the case has attained finality and the persons guilty in the incident are no more.
 
He said the conspiracy behind Gandhi's murder and the identity of assailant Godse who had fired the bullets have been duly established and there was nothing left now. 
The top court had earlier asked the petitioner to satisfy it on the aspects of delay and his locus to raise the issue, while making it clear that it would only go by law and not the stature of the person involved in the case. 

Phadnis claimed in his affidavit that the alleged conspirators were hanged even before the murder trial had attained legal finality from the top court. 

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 Apte on November 15, 1949. Savarkar was given benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence. 

Phadnis had challenged the decision of the Bombay High Court which on June 6, 2016 had dismissed his plea 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. 

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