Court not bound to grant the relief of specific performance merely because the plaintiff is legally right

Supreme Court: The bench of Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ, while deciding the question whether a vendee who does not perform one of his promises in a contract can obtain the discretionary relief of specific performance of that very contract, has held,

“A party cannot claim that though he may not perform his part of the contract he is entitled to specific performance of the same.”

Stating that the relief of specific performance is discretionary, the Court said merely because the plaintiff is legally right, the Court is not bound to grant him the relief. The Court explained that Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 clearly lays down that

“the specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person who fails to prove that he has performed or was always ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract which were to be performed by him.”

Further, the Court noticed that Explanation (ii) to Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act lays down   that it is incumbent on the party, who wants to enforce the specific performance of a contract, to aver and prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract.

Considering that the relief of specific performance under Section 20 is discretionary, the Court said,

“Sub clause(c) of sub­section (2) of Section 20 provides that even if the contract is otherwise not voidable but the circumstances make it inequitable to enforce specific performance, the Court can refuse to grant such discretionary relief. Explanation (2) to the Section provides that the hardship has to be considered at the time of the contract, unless the hardship is brought in by the action of the plaintiff.”

[Surinder Kaur v. Bahadur Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1167, decided on 11.09.2019]

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