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Now we all know hindi movie Rustom was partially inspired by famous Nanavati case. K M Nanavati , a Parsi , was a Commander with the Indian Navy, well connected person and had settled down in Mumbai with Sylvia , his English-born wife, and three kids.
With Nanavati frequently away on assignments for long periods of time, Sylvia fell in love with Mr. Ahuja, aged 34 that time, a friend of Nanavati’s. He had several other illicit relationships.
One day when asked about the affair, Sylvia accepted and Nanavati went to the residence of Ahuja and asked him to marry Sylvia and said he will take responsibility of kids. Ahuja said if he had to marry women like Sylvia it would be a big list.
Nanavati went to his ship and took his gun and six cartridges in a false pretext, went back to Ahuja…got into his bedroom…shot him dead. He went to the police and surrendered.
Legal question was …whether Nanavati shot Ahuja in the “heat of the moment” or it was a “premeditated murder”.
In the former scenario, Nanavati would be charged under culpable homicide, with a maximum punishment of 10 years. In the latter scenario (i.e. premeditated murder), Nanavati would be charged with murder, with the sentence being death or life imprisonment.
During the time of Nanavati’s trial and sentencing, Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister of India and his sister, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, was governor of Maharashtra state. Ram Jethmalani led the prosecution. In a Retrial the High Court agreed with the prosecution’s argument that the murder was premeditated and sentenced Nanavati to life imprisonment for culpable homicide amounting to murder. On 24 November 1961, the Supreme Court of India upheld the conviction.
Nanavati spent 3 years in prison. Finally, an application seeking pardon for Nanavati was obtained even from Mamie Ahuja, sister of the deceased. She gave her assent for his pardon. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, then governor of Maharashtra, pardoned Nanavati. After his release, Nanavati, his wife Sylvia and their 3 children emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. Nanavati died on 24 July 2003.
Above seems uncontroversial facts. Next week I will tell you some confusing but interesting ones about the same case.
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