STATE OF UP vs RAM SWARUP Case Summary (1974 SC)

STATE OF UP vs RAM SWARUP Case Summary (1974 SC)

State of UP vs Ram Swarup case is a classic issue of the Right of private defense of a person. Sections 96 of IPC to 106 of the Indian Penal Code provide the Right of private defense to citizens.

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  • Ganga Ram and Sahib Dutta aka Munimji were trade rivals. Ganga Ram went to buy a basket of melons from Sahib at around 7 a.m. Sahib declined to sell the same, and there was a serious fight between the two and left the market in a huff.
  • Later, Ganga Ram went to the market with his son Ram Swarup and two other sons. Ganga Ram had a knife, Ram Swarup had a gun and 2 others had lathis. They were aggressive with Sahib, who tried to retreat.
  • Ram Swarup shot him dead at point black range.
  • The learned Session Court Judge convicted Ram Swarup under section 302 and sentenced him to death, whereas Ganga Ram was convicted under section 302 IPC read with section 34 IPC and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The other two sons were acquitted from all charges.
  • An appeal was made in the High Court. The High Court acquitted Ganga Ram and Ram Swarup and also confirmed the acquittal of other two. The High Court presumed without evidence that Ganga Ram used to carry a gun to his vegetable farm.
  • The finding recorded by the High Court that the respondents went to the market for casual purchase and that they had a gun because it was their wont to carry a gun is the very basis of its acceptance of the theory of private defense set up by the respondents.
  • According to the High Court, a routine visit to the market led to an unexpected tiff between the deceased and Ganga Ram. The quarrel assumed the form of grappling; the grappling provoked the servants of the deceased to beat Ganga Ram with lathis, and the beating encouraged Ram Swarup to use the gun in defense of his father. The state, by special leave, went to the Supreme Court.


  • Whether the acquittal of Ram Swaroop and Ganga Ram by the Honorable High Court is Lawful?
  • Whether the accused has any right to private defense in the set of circumstances?

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The Honorable Judge present to hear this case was Y.V Chandrachud. Here, he was of the opinion that:

  1. The right of private defense is a right of defense, not vengeance. It is available in face of imminent threat to those who act in good faith and is in no case can the right be approved to a person who stage-manages a situation wherein the right can be used as a safeguard to justify an act of aggression.
  2. If a person goes with a gun to kill another, the intended victim has the right of self-defense, but there is no right to kill him to avert him from acting in self-defense. While providing for the right of private defense, the Indian Penal Code has surely not developed a mechanism whereby an attack may be incited as an occurrence for killing.
  3. The possibility of a fight is not enough to justify the killing of Munimji, but bearing relevance on the sentence cannot be excluded and we would therefore reduce the sentence of death given by the Session Court to Ram Swarup to life imprisonment.
  4. The Court also confirms the order of conviction and sentence under section 25 (1) (a) and section 27 of the Arms Act and direct that all the sentences shall run simultaneously.
  5. There is no material in the charge against Ganga Ram under section 29 (b) of the Arms Act because he cannot be said to have carried his licensed gun to Ram Swarup. The enhanced view is that Ram Swarup took it.


The Honorable Court dismissed the plea of right of private defense by Ram Swarup. They said the right of private defense is the right of defense and not vengeance. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed.


In the State of UP vs Ram Swarup case, the Supreme Court elaborated on what constitutes the Right of private defense. The principles laid down, in this case, are very relevant and are precedent for a plea of right of private defense.

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