The Bombay High Court was then hearing the most high profile murder case in India. The case, which had been going on for almost five years, was finally settled by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawhar Lal Nehru. The Supreme Court also got involved. After this case, the jury system (a legal system for determining the facts at issue in a law suit) abolished from the judicial system of India forever! Here I will try to discuss K.M. Nanavati case: A murder case that shook India!
This was the most talked-about Prem Ahuja murder case in India to date! It was April 25, 1959. Monday morning didn’t seem too different from the other mornings of the week. The gentleman returned home two months later. He is the main character of the whole incident – Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati. In the morning, the husband and wife went to treat the pet dog to a veterinarian. After that, he bought movie tickets for the children and wife and returned to his Colaba flat.
It’s still time to have lunch. Such a small leisure time is the time to renew the old marriage days. The thirty-seven-year-old man put his hand on his wife’s shoulder. Six feet tall, slim, handsome. When he used to wear the white uniform of a navy commander there was a stir among the girls at parties, clubs, and government functions. But how cool was the beautiful wife of twenty-eight years who has passed a happy married life of ten years? ‘You’ve been avoiding it for days’ he told his wife.
Now when he wanted to pull her, she removed her hand and said, “Don’t touch me.”
‘Don’t you love me anymore, Sylvie? Is there anyone else? ‘
During the conversation between the husband and wife, the waiter entered and informed that lunch had been served. After lunch with gravy cutlets and prawn rice, the husband took his wife and children to the Mumbai Metro cinema. He told his wife to buy ice cream at intervals.
Then he straight went to ‘Jivanjyoti’ building of Setalvad Lane. Shortly afterwards, three shots were fired from Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati’s revolver. Sylvia’s boyfriend Prem Ahuja fell into the attached bathroom of his bedroom in the flat and died.
Hearing the gunshots, Prem Ahuja’s sister Mammy came out of her room and saw Nanavati leaving with a revolver aimed at the frightened servant. Nanabati went downstairs and said, “I’m going to the police.”
That’s it. He entered the room of John Lobo, deputy commissioner of the CID’s crime branch. “I am Commander Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati,” he said coldly. I have shot a man. ‘
Those three shots shook not only the then Bombay city but the whole of India. Five years of suffocating tension across the country over what appears to be an open-and-shut murder case. The case went to the Supreme Court, the question was raised in the Parliament of Delhi, which Jawaharlal Nehru himself had to answer. The practice of judging by jury has abolished from India forever. The tabloid paper of that time became a bestseller.
One film after another was made about the love triangle of Nanavati-Sylvia-Ahuja. From 1982’s Yeh Raste Hai Pyaar Ke, to Rustam! From Sunil Dutt to Akshay Kumar in the role of Navy Commander. When the date of the case was read, Nanavati appeared in full uniform with a medal hanging on her chest.
The girls shout, ‘Kawas! Kawas! ’Throws love letters, lipstick-stamped money notes. From the crowd came the slogan, Nanavati Zindabad. As if he was not accused of murder, he was a hero of a Hindi movie. His lawyers claimed he did not commit the murder, bullet ran out in a scuffle.
The Nanavati case enraged the naval officers. Saying, ‘I’ll be at sea to save the country, and a playboy will blow my wife away? Should he be released? ‘
The navy stood beside Nanavati, the navy commander himself came to testify, ‘It could happen to me too,’ and people burst into tears. They demanded to the judiciary, either he should be hanged or, released.
Another thing happened. Nanavati was Parsi and half of the city of Bombay then belonged to the Parsis. They are wealthy and love to do charity. JJ Hospital built with the grant of Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy. The road from Mahim to Bombay was built with his wife’s money.
Petit Library, Parsi General Hospital, above all Taj Hotel, all Persians. Lawyers are headed by Nani Palakiwala, Soli Sorabjee, and Foley Nariman. From business to theater, race houses, Parisians are the lifeline of Mumbai at that time.
Indian Navy, the client of the famous law firm Malla & Malla, and Dhanjish Nanavati is his senior partner. Dhanjish’s nephew is Navy Commander Kawas Nanavati. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira have spent their days on the warship INS Mysore whose INS commander was Nanabati.
Would a Sindhi car dealer be able to seduce Kawas Nanavati’s beautiful English wife? Mainly trader Sindhis came to this country from Pakistan only a few years ago? The case against Nanavati for murdering Prem Ahuja practically stood in the case of Parsi vs Sindhi. The whole Parsi society was behind Nanavati.
The way, Parsi Russi Karanjia’s tabloid ‘Blitz’ has been reporting cases day after day is a scenario in which an unarmed, murdered young man was made a ‘villain’, a woman who was in love with another man was made a ‘victim’ and a murderer was made a hero.
After five long years, the verdict came out! The Chief Justice of the Bombay Sessions Court convicted Nanavati and sentenced him to life imprisonment, but the jury ruled that he was innocent.
The tangle did not cut and the case went to the Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court upheld the Sessions Court’s verdict. According to the High Court, the jury had been influenced by the media.
So their verdict would not work here. The jury passed the bill in parliament to avoid legal trouble. The jury was abolished by passing a bill in Parliament to avoid legal trouble.
So that was the last jury in the legal process in India, even though the High Court did not accept the verdict of the jury. On the other hand, the judge who sentenced Nanavati to life imprisonment for murder in the Bombay High Court was Sindhi.
And the argument that Nanavati’s lawyers’ theory of ‘scuffle’ was shattered by a Sindhi lawyer. His name was Ram Jethmalani. Jethmalani, a 36-year-old Ahuja family member, questioned how the towel on Ahuja’s waist remained as it was when there was a scuffle.
As soon as that report came out in the paper, the hawkers at Mumbai Flora Fountain started cracking their throats, ‘Ahuja ka Toulia, Marenga to vi nahi girenga. Nanavati ka pistol, bang bang bang. ‘
Sylvia-Ahuja had been in love for eighteen months, Sylvia was interested in marriage, Ahuja did not agree. Yet Sylvia could not move from the relationship.
The outcome of that love was uncertain; she could not tell her husband about it. Nanavati told the court that he went to find out if Ahuja was willing to take care of his wife and children. The court could not agree. No one goes to survey the responsibility of others with a bullet-filled revolver.
From the criminal courts to the Supreme Court, Kawas Nanavati was convicted of murder everywhere. But Nanavati got relief. Governor Vijayalakshmi Pandit signed the apology application.
At the same time, Sindhi businessman Prem Ahuja’s brother Pratap was also released. This well-respected rich gentleman was caught in a false case of false testimony. If Parsi Nanavati’s prison sentence was pardoned, Sindhi society will be in rage, so at the same time pardoning Pratap.
But prototypes of ‘celebrity’ trials were created in India. Nanavati, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, has spent only a year and a half as an ordinary prisoner, much time in JJ Hospital. There, his (Parsi) doctor arranged a separate fan for him.
After that, the ‘prisoner’ was in the ‘Sundown’ bungalow in Lonavala. Hollywood heroine Vivian Ley met there. That tradition continues today. Manu Sharma in Jessica murder, Sanjeev Nanda in BMW hit and run case, Salman Khan in Krishnasara deer case.
What did Nanavati do in the end? He rewrote the script of his life himself. The family moved to Ontario, Canada. Started his career as an insurance salesman there. Sylvia took a job at a bank. Eighty years later (2003) Kawas Nanavati died.
Sylvia now spends her days with her grandchildren. Not without giving information about the case. During the proceedings of this case 60 years ago, there was a huge crowd of people outside the court and before the court started, many people were ready in front of the court with money so that they could be present in the courtroom even with money!