Appellant, Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, a Naval Commander, was married to Sylvia and had 3 children. When Sylvia confessed her illicit relationship with Mr. Prem Ahuja, Mr. Nanavati, enraged at the conduct of Ahuja, went to his ship, took semi-automatic revolver and six cartridges on a false pretext, loaded the same, went to his house and shot him dead. Then, the accused surrendered himself to police. He was put under arrest in the due course. He was tried for the murder of his wife’s paramour, Mr. Prem Ahuja.


Whether pardoning powers of governor and special leave petition can be moved together?


The appellant was charged under Sections  302 and 304 of Indian Penal Code ( hereinafter referred to as IPC) and was tried by Session Court.  Jury reached to the decision and voted in favour of accused by majority of 8:1 under both the sections of IPC. However, the judge of Session Court did not agree with the verdict and in his opinion, no reasonable body of persons could bring such verdict. The Session Court judge submitted the case under 307 of Code of Criminal Procedure to the Bombay High Court. The two judges listened the matter and hold the accused guilty of the offence of murder under Section 302 of the IPC and sentenced him accordingly.

Later, the Supreme Court held that the conduct of the accused clearly shows that the murder was a deliberate and premeditated and the facts of the case do not attract exception 1 of Section 300 i.e. death by sudden and grave provocation of the IPC. As a result, the accused was sentence to life imprisonment under section 302 of ipc.  However, after spending 3 years in jail, Nanavati was pardoned by the then governor Vijay Laxmi Pandit.


This is a landmark case in the criminal history of India. The judgement made its place as soon as it was pronounced. The judgement evolved when the session court referred the case to High Court owing to the disagreement of the session court judge with the decision of the jury.  This case resulted in abolition of jury trials. The appellant made special leave petition and an application of pardoning power to governor. The Supreme Court held that special leave petition and pardoning power cannot operate together. If special leave petition is filed then the power of governor to pardon will cease to exist. Nonetheless, the governor reduced the sentence of accused. The court further held that sometimes Article 142 And Article 161 are reconcilable and should be reconciled as the rule of statutory coexistence states that where 2 statue conflict, their objective and language is different and is restricted to its own object or subject, they runs parallel and never meets.

In my opinion, the fact that the accused hid the gun in brown packet proves that he intended to conceal the truth that he is going to murder someone. On the other hand, he first dropped his children to theater along with his wife, then reached the ship, took gun under false pretext, reached the office of the deceased where he was not available. This series of events gave him a lot time to think about his action. If he would have just wanted to talk to deceased, he would not have carry a gun. The murder was premeditated and not just an accident.

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