Honest and hard-working Shankar Nath (Sheikh Mukhtar) earning three rupees a day hard labour, turned out to be a drunkard and gambler under the misguiding influence of Murli (Madan Puri).
Upon a day when they were both dead drunk, Murli asked for the hand of Mala (Kum Kum), daughter of Shankar, in marriage. These words just shook Shankar out of intoxication. His Rajput blood was stirred and he knocked down Murli with an iron rod. Thinking that Murli was dead, he rushed to the city and reached the den of notorious dacoit of the city named Sher khan (Uma Dutt).
Shankar’s wife died of this shock. Murali who returned from the hospital after a few days was now more hard-hearted and cold-blooded than before. He victimized Mala and her brother to such an extent that they were both forced to leave their home and proceed towards the city in search of their father. Murli followed them everywhere.
Hawaldar Preetam (Bhagwan) saved Mala from goondas and arranged to keep her under the protection of his officer Deepak (Sanjiv Kumar). Sherkhan helped Shankar a lot and brought him under his influence and induced him to take to dacoity, looting. Thug Shankar became a notorious dacoit.
One day as he was running from the police Shankar entered the very house, where Mala, his lost daughter, was living. Under strange circumstances, father and daughter meet after a long separation.
At last police officer, Deepak came to know that mala was the daughter of the notorious dacoit Shankar who had taken shelter in her house two times. He arrested Mala, setting aside his own love for her. Mala was released on bail with the help of Preetam. Murli who was hiding waiting for the opportunity lifted Mala forcibly and drove with her to his adda. What Shankar did to rescue his daughter from the clutches of Murli very few persons can do.
This is the story of an honest and simple man who became a criminal “GUNEHGAR” in the eyes of the world under the pressure of poverty. But he had to pay very heavy penality than what society and law would have prescribed for him.
[from the official press booklet]