The Bombay High Court by its Order dated 6th June, 2016 dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking revocation of the Union Government’s notification banning import of a book, published nearly five decades ago titled “Who killed Gandhi”, authored by Lourenco De Sadvandor for being “poorly researched” and “inflammatory”. Dr. Pankaj Phadnis, a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai and the petitioner asserted that the book was crucial to the Indian public and filed another PIL before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, this time seeking re-investigation of the assassination of none other than the Father of the nation that happened in 1948.
Phadnis alleged that the Gandhi murder trial had not yet attained legal finality and insisted it to be “the biggest cover up in history”. He argued that before the birth of the Supreme Court of India, the Privy Council was the highest court of appeal in India and it had not granted the accused permission to file an appeal by way of a Special Leave Petition (SLP). He argued that the Privy Council refused to hear the appeal and stated that the jurisdiction to decide the SLP was to be vested with the Supreme Court of India in 1950 and that it could therefore not hear the appeal. He contended that the accused were denied justice and were executed hastily and illegally, just seventy one days before the estalibshment of the Supreme Court of India.
At the request of the petitioner, the Supreme Court, despite its initial reluctance granted time to file additional documents to support his argument and even appointed Amrender Sharan, a senior advocate and former additional solicitor general as amicus curiae. The petitioner sought the re-investigation by challenging the ‘three bullet theory’ that courts had previously relied on and alleged that there had been four bullet wounds instead. He introduced the possibility of another assassin or conspirator being Force 136, a British special intelligence unit or Herbert Tom Reiner, a disbursing officer who was standing five feet of Gandhi at the time of the shooting. He also alleged that the Kapur Commission Report of 1969 pertaining to the inquiry of the assassination was never presented before the court as evidence. The PIL that had climbed its way to the apex court on the basis of mere conjecture was finally dismissed by the Honourable Division Bench.