KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra

KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra
In the Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appeal No. 195 of 1960
KM Nanavati
State of Maharashtra
Date of Judgement
24th November, 1961
Hon’ble Sri Justice K Subbarao


  • The accused, Nanavati, at the time of the alleged murder, was second in command of the Indian Naval Ship “Mysore”. He married Sylvia in 1949 and had three children. Since the time of marriage, the couple were living at different places having regard to the exigencies of service of Nanavati. Finally, they shifted to Bombay.
  • In the same city the deceased Ahuja was doing business in automobiles and in the year 1956, Agnik, who was common friends of Nanavatis and Ahujas, introduced Ahuja and his sister to Nanavatis. Ahuja was unmarried and was about 34 years of age at the time of his death.
  • Nanavati, as a Naval Officer, was frequently going away from Bombay in his ship, leaving his wife and children in Bombay. Gradually, friendship developed between Ahuja and Sylvia, which culminated in illicit intimacy between them.
  • On April 27, 1959, Sylvia confessed to Nanavati of her illicit intimacy with Ahuja. Enraged at the conduct of Ahuja, Nanavati went to his ship, took from the stores of the ship a semi-automatic revolver and six cartridges on a false pretext, loaded the same, went to the flat of Ahuja entered his bed-room and shot him dead. Thereafter, the accused surrendered himself to the police. He was put under arrest and in due course he was committed to the Sessions for facing a charge under s. 302 of the Indian Penal code.
  • But the defence version was that the accused was away with his ship from April 6, 1959, to April 18, 1959. Immediately after returning to Bombay, he and his wife went to Ahmednagar for about three days. Thereafter, they returned to Bombay and the accused noticed that his wife was behaving strangely and was not responsive or affectionate to him. When questioned, she used to evade the issue.
  • At noon on April 27, 1959, when they were sitting in the sitting-room for the lunch to be served, the accused put his arm round his wife affectionately, when she seemed to go tense and unresponsive. After lunch, when he questioned her about her fidelity, she shook her head to indicate that she was unfaithful to him. He guessed that her paramour was Ahuja. As she did not even indicate clearly whether Ahuja would marry her and look after the children, he decided to settle the matter with him. Sylvia pleaded with him not go to Ahuja’s house, as he might shoot him.
  •  Thereafter, he drove his wife, two of his children and a neighbour’s child in his car to a cinema, dropped them there and promised to come and pick them up at 6 P.M. when the show ended. He then drove his car to his ship, as he wanted to get medicine for his sick dog, he represented to the authorities in the ship, that he wanted to draw a revolver and six rounds from the stores of the ship as he was going to drive alone to Ahmednagar by night, though the real purpose was to shoot himself. On receiving the revolver and six cartridges, and put it inside a brown envelope. Then he drove his car to Ahuja’s office, and not finding him there, he drove to Ahuja’s flat, range the door bell, and, when it was opened by a servant, walked to Ahuja’s bed-room, went into the bed-room and shut the door behind him. He also carried with him the envelope containing the revolver. The accused saw the deceased inside the bed-room, called him a filthy swine and asked him whether he would marry Sylvia and look after the children. The deceased retorted, “Am I to marry every woman I sleep with?” The accused became enraged, put the envelope containing the revolver on a cabinet nearby, and threatened to thrash the deceased. The deceased made a sudden move to grasp at the envelope, when the accused whipped out his revolver and told him to get back. A struggle ensued between the two and during that struggle two shots went off accidentally and hit Ahuja resulting in his death. After the shooting the accused went back to his car and drove it to the police station where he surrendered himself.
  • The trail court convicted under S.304 A of IPC and in appeal the high court convert it into S.302 of IPC. So, the accused made an appeal before the SC and at the same time he made an application to governor under Art.161.


  • Whether SLP can be entertained without fulfilling the order under Art. 142?
  • Whether the pardoning power of SLP and Governor can be moved together?


  1. The SLP was dismissed by the Supreme Court, by majority, holding that the appellants SLP could not be listed for hearing unless he surrenders under Art. 142.
  • The appellant has made SLP and an application of pardoning power to the governor. The governor reduced his sentence. The SC held that SLP and pardoning power cannot operate together as both are different. If SLP is filed then the power of governor in such condition will be ceased.
  • Further court held that the Art.142 and 161 are different in nature. The two Articles are reconcilable and should be reconciled. The rule of statutory coexistence stated that it is sometimes found that the 2 statute conflict, as their objective are different and language of each is restricted to its own object or subject, so they run parallel and never meet.
  • No rule of construction can require that when the words of a statute convey the clear meaning, it shall be necessary to introduce another part of the statute which speaks with less perspicuity and of which the word may be capable of such construction as by possibility to diminish the efficacy of the other provision of the Act.
  • Under Art. 142 unless the order of lower court doesn’t follow SC may not entertain the SLP and in Art. 145 court has all power to make the Law to give justice.


  • The deceased seduced the wife of the accused. She had confessed to him of her illicit intimacy with the deceased. It was natural that the accused was enraged at the conduct of the deceased and had, therefore, sufficient motive to do away with the deceased. He deliberately secured the revolver on a false pretext from the ship, drove to the flat of Ahuja, entered his bed-room unceremoniously with a loaded revolver in hand and in about a few seconds thereafter came out with the revolver in his hand. The deceased was found dead in his bath-room with bullet injuries on his body. It is not disputed that the bullets that caused injuries to Ahuja emanated from the revolver that was in the hand of the accused. After the shooting, till his trial in the Sessions Court, he did not tell anybody that he shot the deceased by accident. Indeed, he confessed his guilt to the chowkidar Puransingh and practically admitted the same to his colleague Samuel. His description of the struggle in the bathroom is highly artificial and is devoid of all necessary particulars. The injuries found on the body of the deceased are consistent with the intentional shooting and the main injuries are wholly inconsistent with accidental shooting when the victim and the assailant were in close grips. The other circumstances brought out in the evidence also establish that there could not have been any fight or struggle between the accused and the deceased.
    The court held that the conduct of the accused clearly shows that the murder was deliberate and calculated one and the facts of the case do not attract the provisions of exceptions 1 of sec 300 of IPC as the accused also failed to bring the case under General exception of IPC by adducing evidence. In result, the conviction of the accused under section 302 of IPC and sentenced him of imprisonment of life.

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Shruti Shekatkar
I’m Shruti Shekatkar, a 4th-year law student pursuing BLS (Basic Legal Science) LLB from Government Law College, Mumbai. My Areas of interest include General Corporate, Banking and Finance, and Capital Market. My free time is occupied by reading books and articles, binging shows, listening to music and of course on social media. I would like to consider myself a good researcher through previous internship experiences. I work best in a team when the seniors and fellow team members are supportive and engaging. I would like to see myself in coming future to be a person who has in spite of her legal career has done her part to “woke” the world and make it a better place to live in.