The landmark judgment of the Indian Judiciary highlighting the importance of grave and sudden provocation, State of Maharashtra vs KM.Nanavati, 1961, Supreme Court of India, AIR 112, 1961 SCR(1) 497. The case of KM. Nanavati was the last case which was taken up for the trial of the jury. And ever since the case had been delivered the judgment the Government of India took steps towards abolishing the system of the jury and it has successfully abolished the same.

Facts of the Case: Sylvia was the wife of the petitioner KM. Nanavati and both wife and husband along with their children moved to Bombay. KM. Nanavati was a naval officer and he being naval officer used to travel a lot for work and then his wife had an affair as she fell in love with a famous businessman who used to reside along with sister was Mr. Ahuja Prem Bhagavan. Sylvia finally confessed to KM. Nanavati about falling in love with Prem and about her affair and then KM. Nanavati when to his ship and he took his possessed revolver and he went to Prem Ahuja and shot him dead and then he was declared by the jury with the ratio of 8:1 of not being guilty and High Court of Bombay under section 307 of Criminal Procedure Code found guilty of KM. Nanavati and KM. Nanavati filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Judgment: The Hon’ble Supreme Court remarked that under paragraph (1) of section 307 of the CrPC, the judge may refer the matter to the High Court if he disagrees with the jury’s verdict. The following two conditions must be satisfied: The jury’s decision must be rejected by the court, and he must also think that no reasonable person could have arrived at the jury’s decision. If and only if these two requirements are satisfied, the referral order will be judged competent; if not, it will be deemed incompetent and rejected by the High Court. The Hon’ble Court concluded after considering all the available information that the appellant’s actions were at odds with his claim that the dead was accidentally shot. He, on the other hand, had the mindset of one who had carefully plotted and exacted vengeance on his wife’s lover. He obtained the pistol under a fictitious justification, then entered Ahuja’s bedroom brandishing a loaded gun. Despite having multiple opportunities to do so, he held back information about the accidental shooting of the victim until his trial. The deceased’s body had wounds that were consistent with being shot on purpose. As a result, the jury’s decision could not be upheld. The Court concluded after reviewing the case’s circumstances that the accused/appellant had gained self-control and was also thinking about the future of his family. He had plenty of time to cool off after his wife told him she had been unfaithful. His acts were obviously deliberate and intentional. The defense of grave and abrupt provocation and that the murder was premeditated did not apply in this case.

According to the Supreme Court, the Governor’s pardoning authority and the Special Leave Petition cannot coexist. The Governor’s authority will end with the filing of a Special leave petition.

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Judgment Reviewed by Kushala Simha

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