The Murder of the Mahatma M K Gandhi

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The Murder of the Mahatma, This is a book of memoirs by a very distinguished Indian judge who in 1959 was. promoted to the office of Chief Justice of the Punjab It is largely taken up. with criminal cases of arson dacoity poisoning vendetta and so on in which. the author was personally concerned as a judge Fascinating in themselves. these accounts are made the more interesting by the author s hamorous and. penetrating comments upon various features of Indian crime the brilliant gift. for perjury which some of his countrymen display the long term village feuds. that every now and then explode into violence the subtlety with which alibis. are faked and false identities assumed The book ends with an authoritative. and moving account of the murder of Gandhi at whose assassin s long drawn. appeal against conviction and sentence of death the author sat or the Bench. Gopal Khosla s book will prove of great interest both to expert in criminology. and the law and to every layman who loves reading about the vagaries of. human nature and the customs of other lands,www mkgandhi org Page 2. The Murder of the Mahatma,By The Rt Hon The Lord Evershed P C. I am proud indeed to have been invited to contribute a foreword to this volume. written from the record of his judicial experience by a distinguished Indian. judge until recently Chief Justice of the Punjab I can feel no doubt that the. book will very greatly appeal to English readers who will agree with me in. admiring not only the style and language in which it is written but also the skill. with which the author has selected the subjects of his ten chapters These. subjects are delightfully varied in their nature and circumstance but are. equally of arresting interest so that if I may judge From my own experience. the reader will in each case await the final denouement with no less. excitement than that experienced in reading the best type of detective story. My pleasure in contributing this foreword is enhanced by the fact that I share. with the author membership of Lincoln s Inn which I Shall be excused for. regarding not only as the senior but as the most respectable of those great. English institutions the inns of Court, Having taken a degree at Cambridge University in mathematics and after his. call to the English Bar the author returned to India and for many years served. as Magistrate Civil judge and District and Session judge in various places In. 1944 he was appointed a justice of the High court of Punjab being promoted to. the office of Chief Justice in 1959, It is from the last of ten chapters of the book that its title is taken and to the.
English readers that chapter must be of particular interest because of its close. connection with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi In the course of the. chapter the author tells of his experience when he called upon the Mahatma. and sought his advice in regard to certain of the grave problems which afflicted. India as the result of the severance of Pakistan therefrom On that occasion the. author states his conclusion that Mr Gandhi had one passion one source of. strength within him and that was a deep an pervading feeling of love He. www mkgandhi org Page 3,The Murder of the Mahatma, Loved Hindus and Muslims Sikhs and Christians alike There is here indeed and. obvious nearness to the second great Christian commandment Thou shalt love. thy neighbour as thyself and I cannot doubt that the good relations which have. happily subsisted between this country and India since Indian independence. owe much to this aspect of Mahatma Gandhi s teaching and influence. I do not doubt that the reader will be no less fascinated by the author s. treatment in the first of his chapters of the question that many people must. often wish to ask of a responsible judge What are your feelings when you are. called upon in the exercise of your duty to pronounce sentence of death Of. the remaining chapters I daresay that many readers will share with me the. fascination of the astonishing story told in Chapter Six and called the Imperfect. The book brings out also some of the special problems which have been. presented to those responsible for the administration of justice in India and. which deserve careful thought by Englishmen To one problem I Have already. referred that which arose from the separation of Pakistan and India and the. terribly distressing circumstance which that separation brought about. Particularly in the Punjab The distribution of the population in that part of. India in villages often dominated by families or sections acutely jealous rivals. of each other is shown very greatly to have added to the difficulties of the. hard worked police when called upon to investigate crimes and in the course of. such duties to collect independent and reliable evidence difficulties which the. author shows have not unnaturally if regrettably sometimes tempted the. police when satisfied that they have found the guilty party to improve upon. what might appear to be the colourless and unconvincing case of the. prosecution In these respects we in this country may indeed be regarded as. fortunate as we are also fortunate in regard to the great skill and thoroughness. of the medical evidence rendered available to English courts. The reader may also be struck as I was by the frequent recurrence of the. same names though attached of course to wholly different persons Thus the. name Mohinder Singh occurs in three of the chapters and that of Hakim Khan as. www mkgandhi org Page 4,The Murder of the Mahatma, belonging both to an accessory to a murder and also to one of the victims They. may perhaps be likened to our own Nation s wealth of Smiths. In his last chapter Mr Khosla raises a controversial question with which I was. personally concerned following the visit to this country in 1961 of the. representatives of the American Institute of Judicial Administration to. investigate with representatives of the English Legal profession the problem. of appellate work namely the question whether and to what extent a judge. should read the papers and acquaint himself with the facts of a particular case. before it comes before him for hearing There is no doubt and understandably. in this country and particularly among members of the Bar a feeling that a. judge who has so acquainted himself with the facts of a case is liable to come. into court with his mind substantially prejudiced on one side or the other as. undoubtedly was the fact in the case described by the author in the last. chapter of this book This is plainly not the occasion for me to enter the lists. upon such a matter I do however venture to make the point that the. opposition to any reading by a judge of the papers in a case before he tries it. may be overstated If the argument in its extreme from were well founded it. would surely mean that in any appeal the appellant would inevitably win a. judge who knows his job should I claim be able to acquaint himself. sufficiently with such matters as the pleadings in the case the terms of any. judgment under appeal and the like in order to save an appreciable amount of. the time taken in Court and therefore an appreciable amount of the costs. incurred which one or other of the parties under our system will eventually. have to pay and should be able so to do without risk of any closing of his mind. to the arguments which will be presented to him, But above and beyond any of the matters to which I have alluded one. consideration emerges uppermost from a reading of this book which is of the. greatest importance and which should bring a sense of pride to all English. readers namely the fact that in this great country of India our English system. of law and our English way of administering justice are maintained and revered. as being the best adapted for realising the essential requirements of a free. www mkgandhi org Page 5,The Murder of the Mahatma, people I had recently the privilege of being invited to sit in Delhi with the. Justices of the Supreme Court of India and I was indeed greatly moved by the. evident belief which the Indian people have in our English law I venture indeed. to think that it is one of the strongest links that binds India to our. Commonwealth and for the future peace and happiness of mankind may it. long continue We must therefore be highly grateful to the author of this book. for the striking Illustration it affords of this great truth I commend in. accordingly with warm good wishes to English readers. www mkgandhi org Page 6,The Murder of the Mahatma,THE CRIME OF NATURAM GODSE.
TOWARDS the end of 1947 I was appointed by the Government of India to deal. with a matter which seemed simple enough to start with but which upon. closer examination revealed a complex and difficult pattern This assignment. provided me with the only opportunity I have ever had of meeting Mahatma. Gandhi and conversing with him for a considerable length of time. The formation of Pakistan and the consequent partition of India led to a large. scale exchange of population millions of Hindus and Sikhs were compelled to. leave their homes in what had Overnight become a foreign country for them. They rushed across the border in quite Unmanageable numbers using all. available means of transport and poured into the towns and villages of India in. big unruly masses They wanted houses to live in The Muslims of India for their. part were equally panic stricken and were leaving for Pakistan The houses. vacated by them were quickly invaded and expropriated by the homeless. immigrants So great was the rush of refugees and so fierce the wrath which. impelled them that it was well high impossible to enforce any kind of scheme. or order into the chaos which prevailed Rich and commodious evacuee houses. were frequently occupied by ruffianly hooligans who sometimes were not. even refugees and had taken advantage of the confusion to improve their status. by grabbing whatever they could lay their hands on while law abiding. individuals belonging to a much higher stratum of society remained homeless. There were not wanting instances of angry refugees driving Muslims out of their. houses before they had made up their minds to emigrate for many of them. hoped to continue their lives in their old established homes after the. disturbances which they hoped would be short lived had subsided This was. something the Government of India could not countenance Mr Nehru had. declared in unequivocal terms that India was going to be a secular State and. any Muslims who chose to remain in the country would be given full protection. and citizenship rights,www mkgandhi org Page 7,The Murder of the Mahatma. In Delhi where there were large numbers of Muslim residents the situation was. at its most difficult The capital was subjected to a much greater influx of. refugees than any other town It seemed at one stage that everyone from west. Punjab doctor engineer lawyer moneylender industrialist business man. shopkeeper hawker atrisan and manual labourer had been impelled by an. irresistible urge to come and live in Delhi The old cry of Dilli Chalo let us go. to Delhi which had been no more than a slogan to rally the forces of. patriotism had at last been answered But there just weren t enough houses. to go round, The Government of India appointed a senior member of the Indian Civil Service. the Custodian of Evacuee Property It was his duty to protect Muslim property. and administer it according to law But this was easier said than done A. Problem of such magnitude and complexity needed a large measure of. initiative resourcefulness patience tact and administrative ability above all it. demanded a knowledge and understanding of the Punjabis The Custodian. selected by the Government of India was a south Indian and very soon there. were loud compalints of incompetence favouritism nepotism and corruption. The matter was raised in Parliament and an immediate sifting enquiry by a. High Court Judge was ordered The Judge had to be a Punjabi conversant with. the people of the Punjab and their problems the choice fell upon me. In Delhi I called on the secretary to the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation. and asked for the terms of reference of the enquiry entrusted to me I was told. that the terms were very wide as wide as I wished I was to report on the work. of the Custodian and clean up the mess This was a tall order and I was. doubtful about the legality of at any rate the wisdom of embarking on such a. vague and limitless venture without something in the form of an order of. Government notification I went to see the Minister He assured me that the. secretary had acted under his orders and that there was no need to limit the. scope of my assignment I would have an entirely free hand and the. government had complete confidence in me etc etc,www mkgandhi org Page 8. The Murder of the Mahatma, Just as I was taking leave of him He dropped a bombshell The Custodian is. proceeding on leave and it may be some time before his successor is appointed. So you will be in complete charge of the department This was staggering I had. come to hold an enquiry and now I was being asked to run the entire show But. it was hardly the time to demur or argue about the matter It would have been. churlish not to shoulder the responsibility even thought it was being thrust. The Murder of the Mahatma By G D Khosla Formerly Chief Justice of Punjab who heard the appeal of Nathuram Godse amp others and gave his most historic verdict in the case of assassination First Published 1965 Originally Published by Jaico Publishing House 125 Mahatma Gandhi Road Mumbai 400 001 The Murder of the Mahatma www mkgandhi org Page 2 This is a book of memoirs by a very

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