Case Analysis on KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra (1962)

By | November 11, 2021
KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra

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This Case Analysis on ‘KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra’ is written by Antariksh Anant and provides an analysis of the KM Nanavati judgement.

Case Analysis on KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra

A milestone case in the criminal history of India, K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra[1] has been a case talked about like since the time now. This judgment made its place before long as it was articulated. The appeal introduced the ordinary issue of an alleged murder by an incensed spouse of a lover of his better half: however, it stirred significant interest in the public psyche by reason of the exposure it got and the significant sacred point it had brought about at that point of its confirmation. Uncommon media consideration and the Abolition of Jury Trials are not many reasons which got this case the spotlight on those occasions.[2]

I. Facts of the Case

  1. Nanavati, who is the accused in the present case, was appointed as the second officer in command of INS Mysore. In 1949, he married Sylvia and were graced by three children. From the start of their marriage, they had to move to a lot of different places due to the transferable nature of his job. By the virtue of them being in the same city, the Nanavati’s got to know Ahuja. At the time of his death, the victim Ahuja was 34 years old.
  2. Bit by bit, companionship created among Ahuja and his wife, Sylvia, which finished in an extramarital affair between the two.
  3. Nanavati was not near his boat from 6 April to 18 April, 1959. After getting back to Bombay, the couple left for Ahmednagar for three days. From there on, they reached Bombay and Nanavati noticed an unusual behaviour in her wife, and upon confrontation, the wife acted flustered.
  4. Around early afternoon on April 27, 1959, while having lunch, Nanavati put his arm around his wife as an act of affection but it made her a little uncomfortable. Upon confrontation, she succumbed to the pressure and admitted her extra marital affair with Ahuja. Knowing her husband’s temper, Sylvia begged him not to go as she was scared that he might shoot him.
  5. From there on, he dropped his family for a movie and promised them that he’ll pick them up at 6 P.M. After dropping them, he went to his boat to take his medicine for his wiped-out canine and asked the staff to lend him a pistol with six rounds on the pretext that he needed is for his safety as he was driving alone to Ahmednagar.
  6. Then he drove to Ahuja’s home and was welcomed by his servant who helped him to his bedroom. Upon confrontation whether he will marry his wife and take care of his kids, Ahuja vehemently opposed and added, “Am I to wed each lady I lay down with?”
  7. This angered Nanavati and he came close to hit Ahuja. The accused then took out his gun from the envelope and asked the victim to back off. The heated fight between the two carried on for sometime and it finally led to the firing of two unintentional shot which ended up killing the victim. After this, Nanavati drove himself to the police station and surrendered himself to the authorities.
  8. On April 27, 1959, Sylvia came clean and told her husband of her extramarital affair with Ahuja. After hearing the same, an angry Nanavati went to his boat and took a loaded pistol and went to Ahuja’s bedroom and shot him dead. Further, Nanavati surrendered himself to the police and later was booked under Section 302 of the IPC.
  9. The lower court sentenced him with Section 304 of IPC and after an appeal t othe high court, he was found guilty with Section 302 of the IPC. Following the same, the accused further made an appeal to the SC and the governor under Article 161 of the Indian Constitution.

II. Issues[3]

Whether the Special Leave Petition be taken into consideration without the fulfilment of the order under Article 142? Whether the SLP can be clubbed with the pardoning power of the Governor?

III. Held[4]

  1. The Apex Court dismissed the SLP, stating that the SLP moved by the appellant could not be recorded until and unless he gave it under Article 142.
  2. The SLP had been clubbed with the application to the governor to exercise his pardoning power. The governor diminished his sentence. The Apex Court was of the view that the pardoning power of the governor cannot go hand in hand with the SLP. If the SLP is registered, the pardoning power of the governor will cease.
  3. No standard of improvement could require that when the outflows of a resolution passed on the unquestionable significance, it will be essential to introduce another piece of the standard which chats with less perspicuity and of which the word could possibly do such advancement as be credible to diminish the practicality of the other game plan of the Act.
  4. Under Article 142 with the exception of if the solicitation for lower court doesn’t follow SC may not draw in the SLP and in Article 145 court has all ability to make the Law to give value.

IV. Judgment

The victim lured the spouse of the accused. She had told her husband of the illicit affair she was having with the victim. It was a natural reaction to get angry in the heat of the moment and further have a legitimate motive to kill the deceased. He intentionally took the gun on a bogus affection, headed to Ahuja’s house, went into his bedroom inelegantly with a stacked pistol close by and in around a couple of moments from there on came out with the gun in his grasp. Ahuja was discovered dead in his washroom with projectile wounds all around his body.

It isn’t questioned that the slugs that made wounds to Ahuja came from the pistol that was in the possession of the accused.[5] After the killing till the time of the preliminary inquiry in the Sessions Court, he didn’t let anyone know that he shot the deceased coincidentally. Without a doubt, he came clean with his crime to the chowkidar at the police station, Puransingh and for all intents and purposes conceded something very similar to his partner Samuel.

His depiction of the battle in the restroom is profoundly fake and is without all important specifics. The wounds found on the body of the victim did not seem unintentional, but to the contrary, seemed very predictable in a case where the shooter is in close range with the victim. Different conditions brought out in the proof additionally build-up that there couldn’t have been any battle or battle between Nanavati and Ahuja.

The court was of the opinion that the shooting was conscious and intentional and not to the contrary. Hence, it does not attract the exemptions laid down in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code as the accused additionally neglected to bring the case under the General special case of IPC by illustrating proof. In the outcome, the conviction of the accused under section 302 of IPC and condemned him of detainment of life.[6]

V. Conclusion

Nanavati was a designed official of the Indian Navy and such wrongdoing submitted by him got acknowledged by the general public attributable to the news-casting towards him. [7]

Moreover, higher legitimate chief and the jury being mixed up on the spot of the law were something that pointed out the proportion of corruption in lawful leader resultant of which was the revocation of the jury system in succeeding Criminal strategy.


[1] AIR 1962 SC 605

[2] Kanishka Mishra, K.M. Nanavati v. State OF Maharashtra, AIR 1962 SC 605, Available Here.

[3] K.m. Nanavati v. State Of Bombay (now Maharashtra), (Supreme Court Of India), Criminal Misc. Petition No. 320 Of 1960 | 05-09-1960, Available Here.

[4] Tanya Tikiya, Supreme Court Case Analysis, K.M. Nanavati v. State OF Maharashtra, Available Here.

[5] Sarkar, Lotika, and R. V. Kelkar. “CRIMINAL LAW.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute, vol. 7, no. 4, Indian Law Institute, 1965,  pp. 456–96, Available Here.

[6] Nishiket Dave,K.M. Nanavati v. State OF Maharashtra, 1962, Available Here.

[7] Disha Gupta, Landmark Judgement Brief: K M Nanavati V. State of Maharashtra, Available Here.

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Author: Antariksh Anant

Antariksh is a Law student at RGNUL - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala, Punjab, India.

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