It is a long-held fact that Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi because his ideology differed from that of the ‘Father of the Nation’. However, a close scrutiny of the case never reveals what Godse said about the assassination during his trial.
The Central Information Commissioner (CIC) stated that the statement of Nathuram Godse should be “proactively disclosed” on the website of the National Archives.
Godse’s statement in court is available in unverified form on the internet and as part of some reports but has long been seen as a politically volatile and emotive justification of his decision to assassinate Gandhi on January 30, 1948.
Acharyulu asked the central public information commissioner not to charge more than Rs. 2 per page for photocopying, citing Section 22 of the Right to Information Act.
In his order, Acharyulu said, “One may disagree with Godse and his co-accused, but we cannot refuse disclosure or circulation of his opinion. At the same time, neither Godse nor the holder of his theme or opinion can go to the extent of killing a person whose philosophy he cannot agree with,” he said in his order.
The CIC was hearing a petition filed by one Ashutosh Bansal who had sought the chargesheet and Godse’s statement from the Delhi Police. The National Archives had asked Bansal to look into the records and retrieve the necessary information. However, Bansal failed to get the relevant information and then approached the CIC.
Although neither Delhi Police nor the National Archives cited any objection to the disclosure of the information, Acharyulu said the information sought did not attract any of the exemption clauses.
He said since the information is more than 20 years old, it cannot be withheld unless it attracts Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, which prohibits disclosure of information that prejudicially affects security of the state or relations with foreign countries.
Acharyulu said in the present case, even Section 8(1)(a) did not apply as the argument that disclosure of Godse’s statement could lead to enmity between Hindu and Muslim communities would not apply.
He said Gandhi’s life, character and image as a champion of peace, Indian Independence and Hindu-Muslim unity couldn’t be tarnished either by his physical elimination or writing hundreds of pages of adverse analysis of his policies.