Nathuram Godse’s Court Statement in Gandhi Murder Case: Rex vs Nathuram Vinayak Godse and Others

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We have seen quite enough of Nathuram during the period of more than five weeks we were hearing these appeals and particularly during the eight or nine days while he was arguing his own case, and I cannot imagine that a man of his calibre could have even entertained the idea

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The statement is a part of the record of the Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, which can be found in Printed Volume II, Criminal Appeals Nos. 66 to 72 of 1949 Punjab High Court, (then at) Simla.

Accused No. 1 Nathuram Vinayak Godse, Hindu, age 37 years. Editor, Hindurashtra Poona

Rex vs Nathuram Vinayak Godse and others

Examination of the accused under Section 342 [now 313] of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi.

Date : 8-11-1948

Present: The Special Judge, Shri Atma Charan

“You have heard” the Judge continued, “the entire evidence produced on behalf of the prosecution as against you. What have you to say with regard to it ?”

“I am to submit my written statement, Your Honour”, Nathuram replied.
“Go ahead, read your statement,” said the Judge. At this stage Shri Daphtari, the Advocate
General stood up to object. Said he “Your Honour, the accused may be allowed to depose only what is consistent with this case. Otherwise, he may not be allowed to read his statement.”

The Judge disallowed the objection.
Nathuram stood poised before the mike to read from his written statement. The silence which had hollowed the Court-room was accentuated by the relay of echoes from the walls with his clear and resonant wards—



  1. Answer to Chargesheet: I, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the first accused above named respectfully beg to state as under: Para 1 to 47 …
  2. Gandhiji’s Politics X-rayed section 1: The background to the event of the 30th January 1948 was wholly and exclusively political and I would like to explain it at some length Para 48 to 68….
  3. Gandhiji’s Politics X-rayed section 2: The accumulating provocation of 32 years culminating in his last proMuslim fast, at last, goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhiji should be brought to an end immediately. Para 69to 70..
  4. Gandhiji and Independence: Some good number of people are labouring under the delusion that the freedom movement in India started with the advent of Gandhiji in 1914- 15 and reached is consummation on the 15th August 1947 on which day it is said we attained Freedom under the leadership of the Father of the
    Nation. Para 71 to 87…..
  5. Frustration of an Ideal: Really speaking the idea of Hindu-Muslim Unity which Gandhiji had put forward when he entered Indian Politics, came to an end from the moment Pakistan was established because the Muslim league was opposed to regard India as one whole nation; Para 88 to 111..
  6. Climax of AntiNational Appeasement: The day on which I decided to remove Gandhiji from the political stage, it was clear to me that personally I shall be lost to everything that could be mine. I am not a moneyed person but I did have a place of honour and respect amongst those known as middle-class society. Para 112 to 150..

Facts of the Case: Events and Accused

Explosion: An explosion occurred near the compound wall of Birla House, New Delhi, the capital of India, on the evening of January 20, 1948. It was of a gun-cotton slab. It damaged the wall.

Gandhiji was staying at Birla House in Delhi then. He had his prayer meetings on the lawn there. The atmosphere in Delhi and other parts of the country was charged in those days and feelings were tense. This was due to the vivisection of Hindusthan a few months before.

‘Sthan’ stands for ‘Land’. A part of Hindusthan was carved out to create a theocratic Moslem independent State, ‘Pakistan’ (meaning holyland). The rest of Hindusthan which became simultaneously independent from the British yoke was renamed ‘Bharat.’

The Indian National Congress was a party to the fore in politics. The leaders of the Congress then had a fancy for Hindu-Moslem unity and secularism. Contrary to their urge and call for the principles, they agreed to recognise a theocratic Moslem State on the Hindu land. It was the leaders’defeat and the defeat of their principles. They were hypocrites and brazen enough to impose dictatorially their principles on the Hindus. To camouflage the defeat, they did not recognise Hindus to be a Nation but considered them to be only a sect. They enforced secularism in their own style on India.

The word ‘India’ is, in fact, a perverted form of ‘Hindusthan’ adopted by the British. ‘Bharat’ too is an ancient name of Hindusthan and connotes complete undivided India. But the leaders thought of avoiding any name for the country that might indicate a predominance of the Hindus and offend Moslems in Hindusthan. Thus, in practice, secularism meant appeasement of the Moslems.

The pangs of partition brought in its trail mass killings, rape, violence, and exodus en masse which became the order of the day. Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma, a great
soul, had played a prominent role in politics. Hindus affected by partition and those who shared universal brotherhood with them, were enraged against him. Police were posted at Birla House to protect him from any possible assault.

The explosion on January 20, 1948, was not aimed at Gandhi. It was almost a hundred and fifty feet away from the dais where he sat. It was, however, revealed later, by the police that the explosion was a part of the plan to bump Gandhi off. Madanlal Pahwa was apprehended on spot on the day. He was one of the Hindu sufferers of partition. The police got information that Madanlal had other accomplices in the plot, that the plan did not work and that his co-conspirators had fled. The police spread a net all over India, to apprehend others. As a consequence, the Government reinforced the police force and security measures were tightened at Birla House.

The police could hardly make any progress in apprehending others within the next ten days. All of a sudden, on January 30, 1948, Gandhi was shot point-blank in the evening at 5 00 P.M. by Nathuram Godse while the former was on his way to the dais for the prayer meeting. Gandhi, with almost feeble or faint ‘ah’, possibly as a reflex action and shock, fell to the ground. He went unconscious instantaneously and breathed his last some twenty minutes later.

Nathuram after firing shots raised his hand with the gun and called for the police. He was apprehended. Nathuram was one of the persons the police had been looking for in connection with the explosion that took place earlier on January 20, 1948. Investigations were confined mainly to Bombay, Delhi and Gwalior.

The FIR Read here

List of the Accused Persons

Twelve persons were accused on different charges. Three of them were absconding. The nine produced before Shri Atma Charan on May 27, 1948 and onward13 were (1) Nathuram Vinayak Godse, 37, Pune, (2) Narayan Dattatraya Apte, 34, Pune, (3) Vishnu Ramkrishna Karkare, 37, Ahmednagar, (4) Madanlal K. Pahwa, 20, Bombay (originally from Dist. Montgomery, Pakistan) (5) Shankar Kistaiya, 20, Solapur, (6) Gopal Vinayak Godse, 27, Pune, (7) Digambar Ramchandra Badge, 40, Pune, (8) Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, 66, Bombay, and (9) Dattatraya Sadashiv Parchure, 47. Gwalior.

The three absconding persons were :  (1) Gangadhar Dandavate, (2) Gangadhar Jadhao, and (3) Suryadeo Sharma, all from Gwalior.

Accused turned Approver :

Accused No. 7 Digambar Badge turned approver.

V. D. Savarkar then got No. 7 in the serial.

Recent News

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked authorities in 2017 to make public the court statement of Nathuram Godse given in  Mahatama Gandhi murder trial.  The CIC, Shridhar Acharyulu, ordered the National Archives of India (NAI) to put up a copy of Godse’s court statement on its website.

Commissioner Acharyulu observed :

“One may disagree with Godse and his co-accused but we cannot refuse disclosure or circulation of his opinion.”

The CIC  also said in his order, “At the same time, neither Nathuram Godse nor the holder of his opinion can go to the extent of killing a person whose philosophy he cannot agree with.”

Prohibition of Publication of the Statement made by Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s Assasion.

Type Of Document Digitize on Demand
Department Ministry of States
Branch Defence & Security
Year / Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 1949
Date Uploaded (YYYY-MM-DD) 2017-09-17
Organization National Archives of India
Identifier PR_000001663160
File No. Progs., Nos. 1(87)-D, 1949(Secret)

The National Archives of India

Mahatma Gandhi murder case Nathuram Vinayak Godse, Assassin of Mahatma Gandhi Interviews Requests from the Relatives for

Type Of Document Digitized Document
Department Home Affairs
Branch Political
Year / Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 1949
Date Uploaded (YYYY-MM-DD) 2019-10-11
Organization National Archives of India
Identifier PR_000004009615
File No. File No. 54/10/49
File Size 2.0
Pages 19
Collection Digitized Public Records
Home Affairs

The National Archives of India

The trial of the case began on 27 May 1948 and concluded on 10 February 1949.

A Special Act, viz, Bombay Public Security Measures Act 1947, was extended to Delhi [1948]before constituting the Special Court and the Act came into force with retrospective effect for the trial of the accused. Equality before law and other inalienable rights were denied to the people through the provisions of  this Act. The Supreme Court of India was not constituted then.


8th September, 1948.

An Act to amend the Bombay Public Security Measures Act, 1947, as extended to the Province of Delhi.

WHEREAS it is expedient to amend the Bombay Public Security Measures Act, 1947 (Bombay Act 6 of 1947), as extended to the Province of Delhi, for the purposes hereinafter appearing;

It is hereby enacted as follows:—

1. Short title and extent.—(1) This Act may be called the Bombay Public Security Measure (Delhi Amendment) Act, 1948.

(2) It extends to the Province of Delhi.

2. Amendment of section 13 of Bombay Act 6 of 1947 as extended to Delhi.—After
sub-section (2) of section 13 of the Bombay Public Security Measures Act, 1947 (Bombay Act 6 of 1947), as extended to the Province of Delhi, the following sub-section shall be inserted, and shall be deemed always to have been inserted, namely:—

“(2A) A Special Judge trying an offence under this Act may, with a view to obtaining the
evidence of any person supposed to have been directly or indirectly concerned in, or privy to, the offence, tender a pardon to such person on condition of his making a full and true disclosure of the whole circumstances within his knowledge relative to the offence and to every other person concerned, whether as principal or abettor, in the commission thereof. Any pardon so tendered shall, for the purposes of sections 339 and 339A of the Code, be deemed to have been tendered under section 338 of the Code.”.

3. Repeal of Ordinance 14 of 1948.—The Bombay Public Security Measures Act (Delhi
Amendment) Ordinance, 1948 (14 of 1948), is hereby repealed.

The  judgment of the Court:


The prosecution produced 149 witnesses. The hearing was closed on December 30, 1948 and judgment reserved. It was pronounced on February 10, 1949. Veer Savarkar was acquitted.

Digamber Badge was granted pardon and set free for having deposed against his co-accused. Vishnu Karkare, Madanlal Pahwa, Gopal Godse, Shankar Kistaiya and Dr. Parchure were to suffer, inter alia, transportation for life.

Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to be hanged. No sooner the sentences were announced the packed Courtroom echoed to the thundering of
spontaneous slogans from the convicts, ‘AKHAND BHARAT AMAR RAHE !’ ‘VANDE MATARAM !’ and ‘SWATANTRYA LAXMI Kl JAI !’

The Appeals:

All the seven convicts submitted appeals through the jail authorities to the Punjab High Court. Formerly the High Court functioned at Lahore. But Lahore, the City said to have been established by Lava, one of the mighty sons of Lord Rama, and the city then known as Lavapur, was now by a strange travesty of fate, in Pakistan and a part and parcel
of the Country ! The High Court had become a ‘refugee’ and had its seat at Simla in the vivisected India.

Nathuram preferred appeal against his conviction for conspiracy and other charges and not against the death sentence. He prayed for permission for arguing his own case and it was granted. By that time all the.convicts in the case were transferred from the Special Jail, Red Fort, Delhi to Ambala Jail. Nathuram was taken to Simla where he was lodged in a  spceial jail. Other convicts were represented by their counsels.

Justice Bhandari, Achhru Ram and Khosla J.J, heard the appeals in May and June 1949. They pronounced their judgement on June 22, 1949. They found Shankar Kistaiya and Dr. Parchure not guilty and acquitted them.

The sentences of Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse and Madanlal Pahwa were confirmed.
The Judges also confirmed the death sentence of Narayan Apte.

Justice Achhru Ram observed:

“Of all the appellants Nathuram V. Godse has not challenged his conviction under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code, nor has he appealed from the sentence of death passed on him in respect of the offence. He has confined his appeal and also his arguments at the Bar only to the other charges which have been found proved against him. He personally argued his appeal, I must say, with conspicuous ability evidencing a mastery of facts which would have done credit to any counsel.”

As regards Nathuram’s power of thinking, the Judge noted :

“Although he failed in his matriculation examination, he is widely read. While arguing his Appeal, he showed a fair knowledge of the English language and a remarkable capacity for clear thinking.”

In the course of arguments, Nathuram had made a ple that on January 20, 1948 he was not present at the Birla House. The judges rejected the plea. In support of their rejection, they referred to their observations of the strong will power of Nathuram.

Shri Achhru Ram says :

“We have seen quite enough of Nathuram during the period of more than five weeks we were hearing these appeals and particularly during the eight or nine days while he was arguing his own case, and I cannot imagine that a man of his caliber could have even entertained the idea (of remaining behind).”

Justice Khosla said:

Justice Khosla after retirement, in a pen picture of the Court scene as it then passed before his mind’s eye has said:

“The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse delivered by Nathuram Godse in his defence. He spoke for several hours, discussing, in the first instance, the facts of the case and then the motive which had prompted him to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life.

“The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. The silence was accentuated and made deeper by the sound of an occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough…

“I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority Nathuram had displayed the same ability while arguing his case before Shri Atma Charan, the Judge of the Special Court, Red Fort, Delhi.”

Execution :

Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were executed in Ambala jail at 8 A. M. on Tuesday, November 15, 1949 i.e. after twentyone and a half months of the shooting incident.On reaching the platform they recited a verse of devotion to the Motherland.

नमस्ते सदा वत्सले मातृभूमे – त्वया हिन्दुभूमे सुखं वर्धितोहम् । महामङ्गले पुण्यभूमे त्वदर्थे पतत्वेष कायो नमस्ते नमस्ते..

Their hands were tied at the back. The hangman put the noose around their necks and left the surplus rope on their shoulders. He also tied together with a cord, the toes of each.
Nathuram and Narayan shouted slogans which reverberated over the radius of a hundred feet in the silent atmosphere around.

‘Akhand Bharat Amar Rahe !
‘Vande Mataram. ‘

The Superintendent gave the green signal to the hangman. The hangman in turn pulled the lever.

The Assistant Superintendent Shri Ram Nath Sharma performed the last rites before the bodies were cremated. The cremation was carried out within the Jail. Nahuram’s will was passed on to Dattatraya, his younger brother the next day.

Veer Savarkar

Veer Savarkar expired in Bombay on February 26, 1966, ironically, after he suffered the rigours of sentences and detention both during the British Rule and also when India was free.

His fault: He urged for just rights for the Hindus and opposed the vivisection of India.

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