This year at the 64th national awards, actor Akshay Kumar bagged the best actor award for his role in Rustom. The movie is based on a real life event of Commander K.M. Nanavati. He was tried for the murder of his wife’s lover.
The roles played by them in the real life were also the same. However, Bombay High Court dismissed the verdict given by the jury. Thus, leading to conviction for Nanavati.
In that era, Jury used to pronounce a person guilty or non- guilty. But, they could not indict or punish the accused.
Unlike the movie, defense did not have much evidences and witnesses in his favour.
What really Happened?
It all started when, Rustom returned from his assignment and could not find his wife. However, in some way he finds out the truth. While Sylvia, Nanavati’s wife, herself revealed everything about her relationship. The movie does not mention about the letters written by Sylvia to Ahuja mentioning about her desires to marry him.
Nanavati dropped his family to the theatre, drove to his naval base and acquired a gun. This indicated that the provocation was not sudden and that he had planned the murder.
Ahuja’s servant declared that three shots were fired and the entire incident occurred under a minute. Nanavati walked out of Ahuja’s residence, without explaining to his sister (who was at home) that it was an accident. He then went first to the Provost Marshall and then to the police to confess his crime.
The High Court agreed with the prosecution’s argument and sentenced Nanavati to life imprisonment for culpable homicide amounting to murder. The Supreme Court confirmed the verdict of the High Court in November 1961.
During this time, Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India and his sister, Vijaylakshmi Pandit, was governor of Maharashtra.
Nanavati had moved in the same social circles as the Nehru- Gandhi family for many years.
Nanavati spent 3 years in prison. The government feared that a pardon granted to him could anger the Sindhi Community to which Ahuja belonged.
At around this time, Bhai Pratap, a Sindhi Trader sent an application of pardon to the Government. Maime Ahuja, sister of the deceased also signed the application seeking pardon for Nanavati.
Vijaylakshmi Pandit, the then governor of Maharashtra, pardoned Bhai Pratap and Nanavati on the same day.
Well, this is how our real life Rustom struggled his way out of the jail.
And after this case, The Government of India made the decision to abolish jury system.