Setalvad lane, a 100-m lane off Napean Sea Road with its quaint bungalows named after an eminent Indian barrister, is mostly remembered as the place that saw one of the most high-profile crimes that grabbed the nation’s attention in 1959. The Jeevan Jyot building located on the road is the place where Commander Kawas Maneckshaw Nanavati shot dead his wife’s lover Prem Ahuja on April 27, 1959. Apart from the fact that the incident received wide media coverage and inspired at least two Bollywood movies, it was among the last cases to be heard as a jury trial in India. The government then eventually abolished the jury system in India.
The lane with its 20th century bungalows and their new neighbours that are tall skyscrapers, is a blend of the old and the new. “The lane has seen a surge of high rise buildings in the last few decades. At least five bungalows have been razed down to be replaced by tall towers,” said 52-year-old Uday Sawant, who has lived on the lane all his life.
In her book Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir, Teesta Setalvad, has mentioned that the small lane is named after her great grandfather, Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, an eminent Indian barrister. “Chimanlal Setalvad lived on this lane and so it has been named after him. Though I never lived there, as my grandfather, MC Setalvad, the eldest of his 10 sons, moved to Juhu, I used to regularly visit there as a child. This was our family’s first home after we moved out of Gujarat and so the kuldevi of our family was in that house. Whenever we were to travel abroad we would visit there for her blessings. Also it remained the home of our grandfather’s brother’s family so we would visit them during Diwali,” said Teesta Setalvad.
However, many in Mumbai who know the road, know it in connection with the Nanavati case.
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