Critical Analysis of the Case: State Of Uttar Pradesh V. Ram Swarup & Another

The Author of this blog is Amit Kumar, Student of 2nd year, BA LLB (H), SGT University, Gurugram 


      Facts Of The Case

    Ganga Ram and Sahib Dutta Mal alias Munimji were trade rivals.

    On the morning of June 7,1970 Ganga Ram is alleged to have gone to the market in Badaun, U.P., to purchase melons from Munimji at about 7.00 am. Munimji declined to sell it.

    Both parties got involved in a verbal fight and Ganga Ram is alleged to have left in a huss.

    An hour later Ganga Ram went back to the market with his son Ram Swarup and two other sons (Somi and Subhash). Ganga Ram had a knife, Ram Swarup had a gun and the two others carried lathis.

    They threw a challenge saying that they wanted to know whose authority prevailed in the market. They advanced aggressively towards Munimji and the latter taken by surprise, attempted to rush in a neighboring kothari.

    Before Munimji could retreat, Ram Swarup shot him dead at point blank range.

    It was at all stages undisputed that Ganga Ram and Ram Swarup went to the market at about 8 a.m. that one of them was armed with a gun and that a shot fired from that gun by Ram Swarup caused, the death of Munimji.

    The Learned Sessions Judge convicted Ram Swarup under section 302 and sentenced him to death. Ganga Ram was convicted under section 302 read with section 34 and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. The other two sons were acquitted of all the charges. On appeal, the High Court of Allahabad acquitted Ram Swarup and Ganga Ram and confirmed the acquittal of the other sons.

    An appeal was made in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India by the State of U.P. concerning only with the correctness of the judgment of acquittal in favour of Ganga Ram and Ram Swarup.



    The High Court had acquitted Ganga Ram and Ram Swarup on the basis of the arguments of the Respondents. The Hon’ble Supreme Court however analyzed each argument of the respondents and reacted. The Supreme Court in response to the cautious approach towards the witnesses said

    “caution is a safe and unfailing guide in the judicial armoury but a cautious approach does not justify a prior assumption that the case is shrouded in suspicion.”

    The Supreme Court further replied to the argument of the non-happening of the verbal arguments that

    “The High Court assumed without evidence that Ganga Ram used to carry a gun to his vegetable farm and the whole of the conclusion reproduced above would appear to be based on the thin premise that Sona Ram had admitted that Ganga Ram had a village farm situated at distance of two miles from Badaun. We find it impossible to agree with the reasons given by the High Court as to why Ganga Ram and Ram Swarup went to the market and how they happened to carry a gun with them. It is plain that being slighted by the melon incident, they went to the market to seek retribution.”

    The Supreme Court also reacted to the argument of a single cartridge in the gun and stated

    “Ganga Ram and Ram, Swarup were wounded by the high and mighty attitude of a trade rival and they went back to the market in a state of turmoil. They could not have paused to bother whether the double-barrelled gun contained one cartridge or two any more than an assailant poised to stab would bother to take a spare knife. On such occasions when the mind is uncontrollably agitated, the assailants throw security to the winds and being momentarily blinded by passion are indifferent to the 'consequences of their action…...The High Court refused to attach any significance to the pellet-marks on the door- frame as it thought that "the gun fire which hit the chaukhat was not the one which struck the deceased. But this is in direct opposition to its own view that the respondents had loaded only one cartridge in the gun-a premise from which it had concluded that the respondents could not have gone to the market with an evil design. Ballistically, there was no reason to suppose that the shot which killed the deceased was not the one which hit the door frame.”

    The Supreme Court talked about the Right of Private Defence, the usefulness of the right in the case and its extent. At the end the Supreme Court confirmed the acquittal of Ganga Ram but convicted Ram Swarup and awarded him with life imprisonment.

    Along with the judgement regarding the case, the Court also held

    “The locus standi of State Governments to file appeals in this Court against judgments or orders rendered in criminal matters has been recognised over the years for a valid reason namely, all crimes raise problems of law and order and some raise issues of public disorder. The State Governments are entrusted with the enforcement and execution of laws directed against prevention and punishment of crimes. They have, therefore a vital stake in criminal matters. The objection that the State Government has no locus standi to file the appeal must be rejected.”


The caseis a classic case on the issue of right of private defence as provided to a person under sections 99 and 100 of Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court in its decisions has elaborated as to what constitutes the right of private defence. The Right of Private defence does constitute a general exception to the offences listed in the Indian Penal Code, however, it has its limitations. There is an extent to which the right can be exercised. In this case the Supreme Court indeed behaved as a ‘court of last resort’. After three judgements by three courts, the court with the highest authority served justice. The Supreme Court well explained how It is a very valuable right. It has a social purpose. It should not be narrowly construed. It necessitates the occasions for the exercise of this right as an effective means of protection against wrong doers. This case is a landmark case and acts as a precedent.


    State Of U.P vs Ram Swarup &Anr on 2 May, 1974 AIR 1570, 1975 SCR (1) 409

    Indian Penal Code