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Surinder Kaur (D) TR LR Vs Bahadur Singh (D) TR LRs: A Party Cannot Claim Specific Performance If He Does Not Perform His Part Of The Contract

Prahalad B ,
  08 October 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court
Brief :

Citation :
Civil Appeal No. 7424-7425 of 2011

Crux:
A party cannot claim specific performance if he does not perform his part of the contract.

Date of Judgement:
11.09.2019

Coram:
Justice Deepak Gupta
Justice Aniruddha Bose

Parties:
Appellant – Surinder Kaur (D) TR.LR.
Respondent – Bahadur Singh (D) TR.LR

Subject

The jurisdiction of court in a suit for specific performance is discretionary and is not bound to grant relief merely because it is lawful. The party to a contract claiming specific performance must show that he performed or is willingness to perform the contract for claiming a specific relief.

Legal Provisions

  • Section 51 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 - When a contract consists of reciprocal promises to be simultaneously performed, no promisor needs to perform his promise unless the promisee is ready and willing to perform his reciprocal promise.
  • Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 – This section provides that a specific performance cannot be enforced if the person claiming it fails to prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract which are to be performed by him, other than terms of the performance of which has been prevented or waived by the defendant.
  • Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 at the time of filing of suit,the jurisdiction to decree a suit for specific performance is a discretionary jurisdiction and the court is not bound to grant such relief merely because it is lawful.

Overview

  • The brief facts are that the appellant had entered into an agreement with the respondent to sell the land to the respondent on 13.051964. Certain amount was paid as earnest money by the respondent to the appellant while executing the sale deed and rest while registration of the sale deed. The possession of land was handed over to the respondent on the date of agreement.
  • It was agreed upon by the parties that as there was a pending litigation regarding the land and after the end of litigation, the deed will be executed within a month and it was also mentioned in one of the clauses that the respondent shall pay a customary rent during this period. After the litigation was disposed, after thirteen years, the respondent herein demanded that the sale deed be executed. But the appellant refused the same on the ground that the respondent did not pay any rent during the pendency of the litigation.
  • The respondent filed for specific performance of the agreement. The suit was decreed by all the lower courts. Hence this appeal.

Issue

  • Whether the respondent’s non-payment of rent bars him from claiming specific performance of the agreement?

Judgement Analysis

  • This court examined the decree of the lower courts declaring that the respondent’s payment and registration and execution of sale deed were not a reciprocal promise. The court did not accept by this view of court and observed that the land was handed over to the respondent and the respondent agreed for paying rent at a customary rate. Hence, it was deemed a reciprocal promise.
  • This court also noted that the respondent did not pay any rent at all till the date of filing of the suit and also blatantly denied paying rent. As per the terms of the agreements is considered, the respondents failed to perform his contractual duty. This court referring to Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act noted that the respondent did not show or prove his performance of contractual duty nor his willingness to perform.
  • The court also further held that the respondent, by not paying the rent, had forgone his right of obtaining discretionary relief of specific performance. Therefore, this court set aside the decree of lower courts and allowed this appeal.

Conclusion

Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act provides for restrictions on claiming relief of specific performance. S.16(c) provides for bar on persons who do not show or prove that he has performed his contractual duty or has willingness to perform that act. In the present case, by not paying the rent, the respondent herein failed to perform his contractual duty.

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