Mr Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, renowned as a Naval Commander in the Indian Navy, was accused of the murder of his long time friend Prem Ahuja.
On 27th April 1959, Nanavati returned home from one of his assignments wherein he noticed that his wife Sylvia was acting differently. After asking her questions, she confessed that she was having an extramarital affair with Prem Ahuja, who lured her into the relationship on the pretext of marriage.
After knowing about the relationship, Nanavati was infuriated and went straight to his Naval base from where he collected his pistol and headed towards Mr Prem Ahuja’s flat. There he had a verbal confrontation with Prem Ahuja, after which his dead body was found.
Nanavati belonged to a Parsi community and was accused of the murder of Prem Ahuja. The Jury Trial declared him not guilty under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This decision of the Jury Trial was found perverse, i.e. unreasonable and unacceptable, by the Sessions Judge, who then referred the case directly to the Bombay High Court for re-trial.
The Bombay High Court, in its verdict, stated that the murder was premeditated, and Nanavati is guilty of culpable homicide amounting to murder.
The Supreme Court on 24 November 1961 upheld the decision passed by the Bombay High Court and sentenced Nanavati to life imprisonment. After this, the public agitated, and Nanavati got support from the Parsi community and the Indian Navy. Additionally, Blitz magazine supported Nanavati, demanded his release, and kept the story alive for three years.
This public support and an application for the release of Nanavati, filed by Prem Ahuja’s sister and the Sindhi community leader to which Prem Ahuja belonged, resulted in the release of Nanavati.
The Governor of Maharashtra Vijaylakshmi Pandit, the sister of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, released Nanavati in 1964.
Akshay Kumar depicted the story of Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati in the movie titled Rustom.
Ankita Trivedi has written this post. She is a practising advocate in New Delhi, having expertise in various legal fields.