10 Most Interesting Indian Court Cases 

We are a land rich in source material, especially if you were to get into the real stories this country has to offer. Yes, it’s a cliché but I

ndia is a great example of how often fact is stranger than fiction. The Indian Judicial System is a treasure trove of such stories. Here are some of the most important and influential cases in Indian history. Read on.

1. K.M. Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra (1959)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>This case was the last time there was a jury trial in India. KM Nanavati, a naval officer, murdered his wife’s lover, Prem Ahuja. A jury trial was held to decide whether it was a crime of passion (carrying a ten year sentence) or pre-meditated murder (life imprisonment) to which Nanavati plead ‘not guilty’. The jury ruled in favour of him but the verdict was dismissed by the Bombay High Court and the case was retried as a bench trial.

State of Orissa vs Ram Bahadur Thapa (1959)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>This is a bizarre one. Ram Bahadur Thapa was  the servant of one J.B. Chatterjee of Chatterjee Bros. firm in Calcutta. They had come to Rasogovindpur, a village in Balasore district in Orissa to purchase aeroscrap from an abandoned aerodrome outside the village. Because it was abandoned, the locals believed it was haunted. This piqued the curiosity of Chatterjee who wanted to “see the ghosts”. At night, as they were making their way to the aerodrome they saw a flickering light within the premises which, due to the strong wind, seemed to move. They thought it was will-o’-the-wisp Thapa jumped into action as he unleashed his khukri to attack the “ghosts”. Turns out, they were local adivasi women with a hurricane lantern who had gathered under amohua tree to collect some flowers. Thapa’s indiscriminate hacking caused the death of one Gelhi Majhiani and injured two other women. The Sessions court judge however, acquitted Thapa declaring that his actions were the result of a stern belief in ghosts and that in the moment, Thapa believed that they were lawfully justified.


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Mathura Rape Case (1972)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>This is one of the most important cases in the country, because the protests that followed the verdict, forced some important changes in rape laws in India. Mathura, a young tribal woman, was raped by two constables within the premises of the Desai Ganj Police Station in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. The Sessions court judge found the accused not guilty. The reasoning behind this was (believe it or not) that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse. This, according to the judge, clearly implied that the sexual act in the police station was consensual. The amendments to the law that were forced by the protests got one thing right – submission does not mean consent.

Kesavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>If there’s one reason India can still call itself ‘the world’s largest democracy’, it is this case. Swami Kesavananda Bharti ran a Hindu Mutt in Edneer village in Kerala but the state wanted to appropriate the land. Bharti, who was consulted by noted jurist Nanabhoy Palhkivala, filed a petition claiming that a religious institution had the right to run its business without government interference. The State invoked Article 31 which states ” no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law. ” A bench of 13 judges deliberated on the facts of the case and through a narrow 7-6 majority, formulated the Basic Structure Doctrine, which puts some restrictions to how much the Parliament can amend the Constitutional laws. In many ways, the judgement here is considered to be a big middle finger to the then Central government under Indira Gandhi. Soon after, the emergency followed.

NALSA vs Union of India (2014)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>This is the landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India which declared that Transgendered People were the ‘third gender’ and that they had equal rights as any other gender. The petitioner in this case was the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Bhawal Case (1921-1946)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>It’s still regarded as one of India’s weirdest identity cases. It mainly revolved around a possible impostor who claimed to be the prince of Bhawal Estate, one which comprised over 2000 villages and was one of undivided Bengal’s largest zamindari estates. Ramendra, the second kumar of the Bhawal estate died in the early 20th century, but there were rumours about him not really being dead. Ten years later,  in 1921, a sanyaasi who looked a lot like Ramendra was found wandering the streets of Dhaka. For some reason, the former tenants and farmers of Ramendra vouched for this man and also supported his claim to the title. Almost everyone except Ramendra’s widow, Bibhabati, believed him. There was a long legal process involving two trials where both sides attempted to prove their claims. In the meantime, the new Ramendra also moved to Calcutta and where he was welcomed in the elite circles. He used to regularly collect 1/3rd of the estate revenue, which was his share. He used that money to support his lifestyle while also paying the legal fees of the case. In the end, in 1946, the court finally ruled in his favour, but soon after that he passed away due to a stroke he had suffered a couple of days earlier.

Tarakeswar Case (1874)


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>This case was so (for lack of a better word) ‘popular’, that authorities had to sell tickets to let people come inside the sessions court. And the story itself is nothing short of a blockbuster. Nobin Chandra slit the throat of his 16-year old wife, Elokeshi, who was apparently having an affair with the mahant of the local Tarakeswar temple. Even though Nobin Chandra handed himself over to the police and confessed his crime, the locals were mostly on his side. The police had to let him go after two years, even though he was serving a life imprisonment while the mahantwas arrested and put behind bars for three years. Alternatively, there were also rumours that the mahant had raped Elokeshi on the pretext of helping her out with “fertility issues”.  This case was really important for that time period because this was seen by the society as one of those moments where the British rulers meddled in the affairs of the Bengali bhadralok and a temple priest, something that was very rare back in those days. 


p style=”width:379.031px;margin-right:auto;margin-bottom:15px;margin-left:auto;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:HelveticaNeue;font-size:18px;line-height:32px;orphans:2;widows:2;”>Source: scoopwhoop.com


Author: Legal Discipulus

A law student, blogger and intraday trader. “Perhaps the most important thing I learned was about democracy, that democracy is not our government, our constitution, our legal structure. Too often they are enemies of democracy.” - Howard Zinn

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