Supreme Court lists requirements for specific performance of suit

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The Supreme Court in a recent judgment laid down requirements for the parties in their respective pleadings, and proof with evidence in accordance with law for the specific performance of a suit.

In Kamal Kumar v Premlata Joshi & Ors, the appellant filed a civil suit against the respondents claiming specific performance of their contract in relation to the suit property, which was contested by the latter. By judgment/decree, the trial court dismissed the suit. The appellant felt aggrieved and filed first appeal before the high court. The high court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the trial court’s judgment and decree, which led to the filing of the present appeal by way of special leave before the Supreme Court.

While allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court held that the concurrent findings of facts recorded by the two courts below on all the material issues are binding on it. These findings are neither against the pleadings nor the evidence and nor any principle of law. These findings are also not shown to be perverse to the extent that no judicial officer could can ever record such findings. The issue of readiness and willingness is the most important issue for considering the grant of specific performance of the contract.

The Supreme Court then listed out requirements to be met in a specific performance suit:

  1. Whether a valid and concluded contract exists between the parties for sale/purchase of the suit property?
  2. Whether the plaintiff has been ready and willing to perform their part of contract and whether they are still ready and willing to perform their part as mentioned in the contract?
  3. Whether the plaintiff has, in fact, performed their part of the contract and, if so, how and to what extent, and in what manner they have performed. And whether such performance was in conformity with the terms of the contract.
  4. Whether it will be equitable to grant the relief of specific performance to the plaintiff against the defendant in relation to the suit property. Or will it cause hardship to the defendant and, if so, how and in what manner and extent if such relief is eventually granted to the plaintiff?
  5. Whether the plaintiff is entitled to the grant of any alternative relief, namely, refund of earnest money etc. and, if so, on what grounds?

The court said that these questions are part of the statutory requirements (sections 16 (c), 20, 21, 22, 23 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and the forms 47/48 of appendix A to C of the Code of Civil Procedure).

The Supreme Court held that 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. Only then can the court exercise its discretion and grant or refuse the relief of specific performance.

The dispute digest is compiled by Bhasin & Co, Advocates, a corporate law firm based in New Delhi. The authors can be contacted at lbhasin@bhasinco.in or lbhasin@gmail.com. Readers should not act on the basis of this information without seeking professional legal advice.