The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to disclose action taken on the JL Kapur Commission report on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination which reportedly said evidence only points towards the theory of Veer Savarkar and his group being part of the criminal conspiracy.
The CIC also recommended the PMO to build exhaustive archives on Mahatma Gandhi on the lines of recent declassification of files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose.
The transparency watchdog transferred an RTI application seeking records related to the assassination of Gandhi on January 30, 1948, subsequent probe and the court case.
The CIC said the petition should be transferred to the PMO for “information” and necessary action to formulate appropriate policy to build archives of records regarding Gandhi’s assassination, investigation, trial, punishment, official correspondence, and action taken on the recommendations of JL Kapur Commission.
The government had appointed a judicial commission under the chairmanship of JL Kapur to inquire into the conspiracy angle and other aspects of the assassination of Gandhi, information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
He said a copy of the Kapur report was available with Indian Law Institute, New Delhi which has a treasure trove of information about Gandhi’s death which needs to be probed and an archive could be built in the National Archives of India (NAI).
Citing an article by noted historian and lawyer AG Noorani in The Hindu news paper, Acharyulu said the court had earlier exonerated Savarkar for want of corroborative evidence in support of the approver’s confession.
“However, Justice Kapur’s findings are all too clear. He concluded: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group” (Noorani, AG (March 15-28, 2003). “Savarkar and Gandhi”, The Hindu),” he said.
Acharyulu said that under the proactive disclosure clause of the transparency law, section four of the RTI Act, it was the duty of the concerned authorities like the PMO, culture minister, the NAI to provide authentic information in digitised form about the assassination.
He said this information should be placed in public domain to facilitate research or answer curiosity of the generations to come.
“The people of present and future ages should have liberty of thought based on entire factual information/ documents on this national tragedy of assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and enough freedom to formulate their own opinion on his life and achievement,” Acharyulu said while deciding the petition of researcher Hemant Panda.
“The NAI should have consulted the ministry of home affairs and the Supreme Court for securing all records of Gandhi murder investigation, prosecution, detention in jail and execution of the accused,” he said.
Achryulu said if the home ministry could trace the entire record of the Kapur Commission’s hearings and depositions, documents, and file notings on the same, it will enrich the collection.
He said the Prime Minister has declassified 100 secret files pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in January 2016 and promised to release 25 declassified files every month.
“This is a significant step towards transparency about history of national heroes. Similarly, the Prime Minister needs to place the official documents, declassifying them if necessary, regarding Gandhi.
“There are huge repositories of books and papers on Gandhi’s life by private and public authorities. Unfortunately, there is no official compilation record at one place about his death,” he said.
The commissioner hoped that the NAI would get enough funds from the government to digitise and categorise the records of Mahatma Gandhi, making them available in an easy and accessible format on their official website to enable people to read the entire documents.