Case Analysis: KM Nanavati v/s State Of Maharashtra
This case of KM Nanavati v/s State Of Maharashtra AIR 605 , 1962 is a
landmark case which is due to the jury trials [this case was one of the last
case to be heard as a jury trial in India , jury trial means the case in which
group of people takes decision .the code of criminal procedure in 1974 the
chapter of jury trial was closed]
Background/Facts Of The Case
Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati a.k.a KM Nanavati was a naval officer in Indian navy
who murdered a man named Prem Ahuja with whom the wife of KM Nanavati [Sylvia]
was having extra marital affair.
Nanavati went to Ahuja's home armed with his revolver , three gunshots were
heard when Nanavati came out, Ahuja was found dead after this Then the accused
KM Nanavati surrendered himself to the police.
KM Nanavati was on trial under section 302 and section 304 of Indian penal code
for the murder of Prem Ahuja
The first issue raised was whether this act of murder comes under grave and
sudden provocation and the culpable homicide not amounting to murder or not ?
Whether the pardoning power of the governor and the special leave petition can
be moved together?
Culpable Homicide Not Amounting To Murder:
Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the
act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
2ndly.If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the
offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is
3rdly. If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person
and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary
course of nature to cause death, or
4th. If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous
that it must, in all probability, cause death, or such bodily injury as is
likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the
risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.
Exception 1: When culpable homicide is not murder.—Culpable homicide is
not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by
grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the
provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.
Argument Of The Petitioners [K.M Nanavati]
KM Nanavati contended that the Bombay high court was not empowered by section
307 (3) of IPC to set the verdict aside of the jury on the grounds that there
were misdirections in the charge.
Since there was grave and sudden provocation , the offence committed , if any
was not murder, but culpable homicide not amounting to murder
Petitioners also stated that he killed Mr. Ahuja for protecting himself under
Mr. Ahuja had just tooked shower , he came out of his bathroom in towel . his
towel was still on his body when he discovered dead which was unlikely for a
period of sudden fight
the confession of Sylvia and the time of murder of Prem Ahuja time lapse, that
was sufficient enough to regain self control he was having sufficient cooling
Which demonstrates that it was nor sudden and was pre-mediated murder Mr.
Ahuja's servant whose name was anjani was the witness who testified shots that
were fired in rapid succession
The suPreme court upheld the judgement of Bombay high court and held that KM
Nanavati is guilty under section 302 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo life
Section 302 of IPC states that:
Punishment for Murder:Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or 1[imprisonment for
life], and shall also be liable to fine.
The suPreme court held that power of the governor will exist as per statutory
coexistence rule according to which the pardoning power of the governor is
superior so the SLP and the pardoning power of governor can't exist together.
The basis of the decision of of supreme court:
On April 27 1959 , Sylvia confessed to Nanavati of her illicit intimacy with Mr.
Ahuja The first basis was the confession of Sylvia and the time of murder of
Prem Ahuja time lapse, that was sufficient enough to regain self control .
Since Nanavati Ahuja had asked Mr.Ahuja some questions regarding future of his
wife and children indicates his conscious state of mind.
Before shooting Mr. Ahuja, Nanavati had also abused him so it can't be the basis
for grave and sudden provocation
KM Nanavati was declared as not guilty initially be a majority ratio of 8:1 .
but the sessions judge disagreed with the decision and transferred the case to
Bombay high court
Then the divisional bench of Bombay high court on march 11,1960 held that the
appellant KM Nanavati was guilty of section 302 of IPC and sentenced him undergo
rigorous imprisonment of life.
Article 161 of the Indian constitution states that:Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute
sentences in certain cases The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant
pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or
commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law
relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends
The appellant appealed in suPreme court by special leave petition and made an
application to the governor under article 161 which gives pardoning power to the
Hence it can be concluded from the above discussions that this case has received
a lots of media coverage and inspired several books and movies. Nanavati was
pardoned by governor vijay lakshmi pandit after 3 years after which Nanavati and
his family emigrated to Canada .
Written By: Kumari Sheetal, student of 4th year at SRMS College Of Law
Bareilly Affiliated With MJP Rohelkhand University.
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