After six months and a dozen hearings, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition that asked for the investigation into Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 to be re-opened, Live Law reported.
The bench of justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said the petitioner’s case was “based on academic research but that cannot form the basis to reopen a matter that happened 70 years ago”, PTI reported.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Pankaj Phadnis, a Mumbai-based trustee of the Hindutva group Abhinav Bharat, in October 2017. Phadnis had claimed the investigation into Gandhi’s assassination was “one of the biggest cover-ups in history” and sought a re-investigation. He said Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were not the only ones who shot Gandhi. He claimed four shots were fired, and that it was the fourth bullet, fired by a mysterious person, that killed Gandhi.
The court then appointed senior lawyer Amrendra Sharan as the amicus curiae in the case and asked him to go through all the documents related to the assassination. Sharan, in his report submitted to the court in January, said, “The bullets that pierced Gandhi’s body, the pistol from which it was fired, the assailant who fired the bullets, and the conspiracy and ideology that led to Gandhi’s assassination have all been duly identified.”
Phadnis also claimed that the 1969 Kapur Commission report on the assassination made “adverse, unfounded” remarks against Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and alleged that the Maratha community was “maligned” by these remarks, which should hence be removed, PTI reported.
The Supreme Court, however, said the “Maratha people have survived in spite of all this”. “You are talking about two people who happened to be from Maharashtra,” the court said. “They do not represent the state.”
In earlier hearings too, the court had told Phadnis “not to get carried away by the greatness of the person involved”. The bench said it would “act according to the law and not as per stature of person involved”, and added, “This is about whether there is any evidence available or not.”
On March 6, the bench reserved its order in the case but told the petitioner, “Don’t get sentimental about the matter. These are not matters to show emotions. We will go by the legal submissions and not emotions.”
Gandhi was shot dead at point blank range in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. Godse and Apte were executed on November 15, 1949, while Savarkar was given the benefit of the doubt due to lack of evidence.