In a society that values peace, there’s a strong demand for eliminating those who disrupt it, especially professional killers who threaten the community.40 years ago, this was the most infamous case which shocked the whole country. Every news headline was covering this case known as the “Ranga Billa case”.This was a double murder case. Two teenagers, Geeta and Sanjay Chopra children of senior Naval officers were subjected to brutal torture before being murdered cruelly. This case, dating back to 1978, became infamous because the murderers involved were sentenced to death. Despite appealing to the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, their final conviction upheld the death penalty. These criminals were deemed too dangerous to be given a second chance, as they had brutally murdered two innocent children solely for financial gain.


The Geeta and Sanjay kidnapping case, also known as the Ranga-Billa case, is a notorious crime that took place on August 26, 1978. In this incident, two children were kidnapped and murdered in New Delhi by Kuljeet Singh, also known as Ranga Khus, and Jasbir Singh, also known as Billa.

Madan Mohan Chopra, a captain in the Indian Navy, lived with his family in Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi. He had a daughter, Geeta Chopra, who was 16 and a half years old, and a son, Sanjay Chopra, who was two years younger. On the evening of the incident, Geeta and Sanjay were supposed to participate in a program at All India Radio. When their parents tuned in to listen, they didn’t hear their children’s voices. Concerned, their father went to the radio station to pick them up but discovered that they had never arrived. He became increasingly worried and contacted family and friends to see if the children were with them, but no one had seen them.

Ranga and Billa had kidnapped Sanjay and Geeta outside the radio station in a car. Several witnesses saw the car and the children inside, trying to call for help, but despite attempts to rescue them, the kidnappers managed to escape. Fearing the worst, Madan Mohan Chopra filed a complaint with the police.

The police swiftly tracked down the suspects and began their investigation. On August 28, 1978, a cattle grazer found the bodies of a boy and a girl in a jungle. The parents, who had reported their children missing, were called to identify the bodies, which were confirmed to be Geeta and Sanjay Chopra .

And according to the chargesheet filed there were two public witnesses.

  1. Inderjeet Singh Noata, a young Junior Engineer of the Delhi Development Authority.
  2. Bhagwan Dass, public witness no. 2 came out of Gurudwara.


The convicted challenged the death sentence verdict in Delhi High Court. They filed a petition under article 136 in the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court rejected it.

Ranga and Billa now had the option of sending a mercy petition to the President.

But President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy immediately rejected the appeal to waive the death sentence under Article 72,  without citing a reason. They again filed a petition to the Supreme Court arguing that the president should fairly use the clemency power.

Provisions of the law attracted

Sections 302, 364, 376, and 394 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as Sections 365, 363 read with Section 34 and Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959—Jasbir Singh was also found guilty under this Act—were the sections under which the offenders were accused. In accordance with Sections 164, 354(3), 366, and 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the Trial Court had filed the proceedings with the High Court in order to have the sentences of all the appeals that this ruling will resolve confirmed. Additionally, the Indian Evidence Act of 1872’s Sections 8 and 30 were used to charge them.

8Indian Evidence ActThis Section states that any fact is relevant if it shows a motive, preparation, or any subsequent conduct in issue or in relevant fact.
27Arms ActThis Section states that if any person uses any ammunition or any arms in contravention of Section 5 then that person will be punished with imprisonment and will also be liable to a fine.
30Indian Evidence ActThis Section states that if any confession is made by one person which affects the other person too, then such a confession will be considered by the court, and the court will consider such a confession for another person too.
34Indian Penal CodeThis Section says that if many people commit a criminal act with a common intention, then each person will be liable for the same.
164Criminal Procedure CodeThis Section states the procedure for recording the confession and statements made in an investigation under this section.
302Indian Penal CodeThis Section states that whosoever commits murder will be punished either with the death penalty or with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable for a fine.
313Criminal Procedure CodeThis Section states that there is the power to examine the accused in every inquiry or trial.
354(3)Criminal Procedure CodeThis Section states that when the offence is punishable with death or life imprisonment then the judgement will state the sentence awarded and in such cases the particular reason is given for such sentences.
363Indian Penal CodeAny person kidnapped from a guardian will be punished under this section.
364Indian Penal CodeThis Section states that whosoever kidnaps or abducts someone in order to murder them will get imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for the term which may be extended to 10 years.
365Indian Penal CodeThis Section states that whosoever will kidnap or abduct a person with the intent to be secretly and wrongfully confined will be punished with imprisonment and will also be liable to pay a fine.
366Criminal Procedure CodeThis Section states that if the court of session passes any judgement which sentence to death then the sentence will not be executed until it is confirmed by the High Court.
376Indian Penal CodeThis Section states that whosoever commits rape in any form described under Section 375 will get punishment under this section.
394Indian Penal CodeThis Section states that whosoever will commit any voluntary hurt to someone in order to commit robbery will be punished with life imprisonment or with rigorous imprisonment as described under this section.


After the appeal by the defendants, the final judgment was delivered by the Delhi High Court under the bench of Justice V. Mishra and F. Gill.

Kuljeet Singh (Ranga) and Jasbir Singh (Billa) had been convicted by an Additional Sessions Judge in Delhi under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to death. Additionally, each of them received five years of rigorous imprisonment on the first and second counts and seven years on the third count. Following the Additional Sessions Court’s judgment, both Kuljeet and Jasbir filed separate appeals against their convictions and sentences. The Trial Court also referred the proceedings to the Delhi High Court under Section 366 of the Criminal Procedure Code for confirmation of the sentences, and all the appeals and murder references were resolved by this judgment.

The defendants then filed a Special Leave Petition against their conviction and sentence, which was dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Through the writ petition, they requested a re-evaluation of their case and reconsideration of the death sentence imposed on them. The Hon’ble Supreme Court affirmed that the Sessions Judge and the High Court had made the correct decision, as there was substantial evidence proving their guilt, and the defendants’ unimpeachable character further established their involvement in the murder.

The 3-judge bench of YV Chandrachud, CJ and AP Sen and Baharul Islam, JJ, hence, imposed death sentence on Ranga and Billa after observing that the murder was planned and not a result of a sudden impulse.

“The survival of an orderly society demands the extinction of the life of persons like Ranga and Billa who are a menace to social order and security. They are professional murderers and deserve no sympathy even in terms of the evolving standards of decency of a maturing society.”


In this case, the accused, who was sentenced to death, had his mercy petition rejected by the President without any reasons provided. The appellant filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the lack of reasons for the rejection. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition, stating that the President’s pardoning power is discretionary and does not require justification, whether granted or denied. This case clarified that the President is not obligated to provide reasons for rejecting a mercy petition.

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