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The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the grant of relief of specific performance is a discretionary and equitable relief and the statutory requirements for the same have to be properly pleaded by the parties in their pleadings and proved with the aid of evidence in accordance with law.
It is only then that the Court is entitled to exercise its discretion and accordingly grant or refuse the relief of specific performance depending upon the case made out by the parties on facts, a Bench of Justices AM Sapre and Indu Malhotra ruled.
By way of background, the appellant was the plaintiff whereas the respondents were the defendants in the civil suit out of which the appeal arose. The appellant filed the civil suit against the respondents claiming specific performance of the contract in relation to the suit land. The respondents contested the suit.
The Trial Court dismissed the suit. The plaintiff felt aggrieved and filed the first appeal before the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The High Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment and decree of the Trial Court, which gave rise to the current appeal in Supreme Court.
The Court in deciding the case proceeded to explain the law relating to specific performance.
The grant of relief of specific performance is a discretionary and equitable relief, the Court made it clear at the outset.
It then set out the following material questions, which are required to be gone into for grant of the relief of specific performance:
whether there exists a valid and concluded contract between the parties for sale/purchase of the suit property;
whether the plaintiff has been ready and willing to perform his part of contract and whether he is still ready and willing to perform his part as mentioned in the contract;
whether the plaintiff has, in fact, performed his part of the contract and, if so, how and to what extent and in what manner he has performed and whether such performance was in conformity with the terms of the contract;
whether it will be equitable to grant the relief of specific performance to the plaintiff against the defendant in relation to suit property or it will cause any kind of hardship to the defendant and, if so, how and in what manner and the extent if such relief is eventually granted to the plaintiff;
whether the plaintiff is entitled for grant of any other alternative relief, namely, refund of earnest money etc. and, if so, on what grounds.
The aforementioned questions are part of the statutory requirements Specific Relief Act, 1963 and the forms 47/48 of Appendix A to C of the Code of Civil Procedure.
These requirements have to be properly pleaded by the parties in their respective pleadings and proved with the aid of evidence in accordance with law. It is only then the Court is entitled to exercise its discretion and accordingly grant or refuse the relief of specific performance depending upon the case made out by the parties on facts, the Supreme Court held.
In the case at hand, the Court noted that the two Courts below went into the above questions in the light of pleadings and evidence and recorded a categorical finding against the plaintiff holding that the plaintiff was neither ready and nor willing to perform his part of the contract and, therefore, he was not entitled to claim the relief of specific performance of the contract against the defendants in relation to the suit land.
“…Both the Courts below held that the plaintiff has failed to prove his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the contract. The issue of readiness and willingness, in our view, is the most important issue for considering the grant of specific performance of the contract and the same having been held by the two Courts below on appreciation of evidence against the plaintiff, it is binding on this Court.”
It, therefore, dismissed the appeal.
Read the judgment below.