Where Are The 3 Absconding Accused?

The details of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the ensuing trial are still not entirely in the public domain. The three accused in the case who were declared absconding remain characters shrouded in mystery. Dr Madabhushi Sridhar, Central Information Commissioner, throws light on the efforts made by RTI activists to unravel the mystery.

RTI on Assassination of Mahatma-1

If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi, 28 January 1948, two days prior to his assassination

Madabhushi Sridhar

None can deny the public interest in the historic event ending the life of father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi. FIR No 68/48 dated 30.1.1948, and final charge sheet issued by the Delhi Police, copy of order to execute the accused Mr. Nathuram Godse in case of assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, all are very important historic documents, which a nation cannot loose. Do we have them? This question cropped up when a couple of RTI requests were not responded. Hemanth Panda claimed that he is a researcher and interested in studying the records pertaining to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The CPIO asked him to come and inspect the files at National Archives of India. He was given copy of the charge sheet and FIR.  But he wanted two important documents, final Charge sheet issued by the Delhi Police and order of execution of Mr. Nathuram Godse.

The nation does not also know that three accused were absconding, now too, after charged as killers of Gandhi.

The record shows three accused– Mr. Gangadhar Dahawate, Mr. Surya Dev Sharma and Mr. Gangadhar Yadav were absconding, but nothing to show whether any efforts were made to apprehend them or whether the criminal case against them was closed, if so why?  The citizen wanted to see the record containing the details about efforts of Delhi Police to apprehend these three accused persons and reasons for not arresting them and stated that other two accused Mr. Dattatreya Parchure and Mr. Shankar Kistaiya were acquitted during appeal. The office receive the records as sent for archives and  cannot say whether final charge sheet was missing or explain reasons for absconding of accused or acquittals.

As per earlier records the original FIR No. 68/1948 under section 302, IPC on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi has been deposited in the National Archives of India, who also possessed the original of the charge sheet, whereas Delhi Police informed the Commission earlier that they had only the photocopy of the FIR. The perusal of records and contentions led the Commission to infer that the respondent authority could not say anything about the final charge sheet or other details as sought by the appellant. They should have at least transferred the RTI request to the concerned authorities.  The CPIO says that they were under heavy pressure of RTI requests pertaining to files of Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Vallabh Bhai Patel. CPIO stated that frequent reference under RTI was causing difficulties in protecting the records. However, the records pertaining to accession of 600 princely states to India under leadership of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and the records pertaining to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were made available in the digitized form and accessible in the National Virtual Library Institute and National Science Centre. She also said that most of the records available in archives can be accessed through its portal Abhilekh patal. She also informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released several documents of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on 24.01.2016.

The Accused in Gandhi murder are:

  1. Nathuram V. Godse
  2. Narayan D. Apte
  3. Vishnu R. Karkare
  4. Madanlal K. Pahwa
  5. Shankar Kistayya
  6. Gopal V. Godse
  7. Vinayak D. Savarkar
  8. Dattatraya S. Parchure
  9. Gangadhar S. Dandawate
  10. Gangadhar Jadhav
  11. Suryadeo Sharma
  12.  Accused Digamber R Badge turned approver

Judgement was pronounced on February 10, 1949. Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to be hanged. Vishnu Karkare, Madanlal Pahwa, Gopal Godse, Shankar Kistaiya and Dr. Parchure were to suffer, inter alia, transportation for life. Vinayak Savarkar was acquitted. Digamber Badge was granted pardon and set free for having deposed against his co-accused.

The accused were put on trial at Peterhoff, Shimla, which housed the Punjab High Court at Simla. Vinayak Savarkar was acquitted and set free due to lack of evidence. (Based on decision dated 16.2.2017 in CIC/SH/A/2016/001055 Hemanta Panda v. PIO, M/o Culture)

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