Case Study – K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra

K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra

  • Name of the Case – K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra
  • Citation – AIR 1962 SC605
  • Case decided on – 24.11.1961
  • Judges involved in the Case- 1) Subbarao.K  2) Das. S.K.  3) Dayal Raghubar.
  • Laws and Acts Applied in the Case –  Indian Penal Code, 1860 ( Sections 88, 302, 300 exception I),  Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898,  Indian Evidence Act, 1872.



This case is one of the landmark judgements of India which received unprecedented media attention as this case involves Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, a Naval Commander who was tried for committing the murder of his wife’s lover, Mr.Prem Ahuja. Initially Nanavati was declared not guilty but later the verdict was dismissed by the Bombay High Court and the case was tried under a bench trial.

This was the last case to be heard as a jury trial in India because as the result of this case, the government abolished the jury trials in India.


  1. Nananvati, the accused at the time when he committed the murder of Ahuja was second in command of the Indian Naval Ship. He married Sylvia, his wife in 1949 and has three children. Because of his service the couple after the mairrage had to shift to different places. Finally they shifted to Bombay.
  2. The couple in Bombay through a common friend met the deceased Mr.Ahuja who had an Automobile business in Bombay. Ahuja was unmarried. Nanavati because of his service on the ship had to frequently leave Bombay leaving behind his family.
  3. Ahuja and Sylvia became good friends and gradually their friendship turned into an intimate relationship. On April 27, 1959, Sylvia confessed to her husband Nanavati about her and Ahuja’s illicit intimacy.
  4. Unable to bear the betrayal, angry Nanavati took from the store of his ship a semi-automatic revolver ans six cartridges on a false pretext, loaded the gun and went to Ahuja’s flat. The servant at Ahuja’s flat opened the door. Nanavati went to Ahuja’s bedroom and closed the door from inside and abused Ahuja by calling him a Swine. Nanavati then questioned Ahuja that whether he would marry Slyvia and look after his children. To this Ahuja replyed saying, “Am I to marry every women I sleep with?”. The accused Nanavati got enraged from this answer of his and placed the envelope containing the revolver on a cabinet nearby and threatened to thrash the deceased. The deceased made a sudden move to grasp the envelope, when Nanavati whipped out his revolver from the envelope and told Ahuja to back off. A struggle went off between the two and in the course of the struggle two shots went off accidentally and hit Ahuja which resulted in his death and thereafter Nanavati surrendered to the Police.
  5. Nanavati was charged under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The trial court convicted him under Section 304A of IPC and later under an appeal the high court converted it into S.302 of IPC.


  • It was held by the court that the conduct of the accused clearly showed that the murder committed by him was a deliberate one and the facts of the case do not attract the provision of Exception I of section 300 of IPC as the accused by adducing evidence failed to bring the case under General Exception Of IPC .
  • Therefore, as a result, the court convicted Nanavati under section 302 of IPC and sentenced him of Imprisonment for Life.


  1. I do not understand one thing why he shoot that man ,it is the only judgement he delivers? what about the woman behind the whole matter if man betrays it sounds and if woman betrays what is it……

  2. His fault was that he shoot that man who denied to marry his wife and accept his children’s. He did because of his wife. and other side his wife was incorrect who could not control her self got intimated with other man it mean she was unsatisfied with her husband. This would not happen if should would have control on herself. He killed that man because he was thinking goodwill of his wife which she was not deserving.

  3. i think just bcz of his wife his has commited that murder otherwise if ahuja agree to marry his wife he won’t commit murer by the way u provide good information of case

  4. k m nanavati killed ahuja only for his verdict ‘ am i to marry every woman with whom i sleep’, this is the statement which provoked k m nanavati suddenly. i do not understand why court ignored this fact… because it is similar as if somebody abuses someone by saying that ‘ you are a frozen snake’.


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