Plaintiff must prove that they were ready and willing to perform the terms of the contract.
J. Ruma Pal
Appellant-Ram Awadh (Dead) by LRs
Respondent- Achbalbar Dubey &Anr.
The appellants have filed a suit for specific performance, under Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act. The question that arose was if the defendant was always ready and willing to perform their part of the contract.
- The appellants are the legal representatives of the subsequent purchaser of a property. They were previously defendants in a suit for specific performance.The plaintiff in that case had not initially pleaded she was ready and willing to perform the agreement, but this was later added by an amendment.
- The question arose if she or her representatives were ready and willing to perform their part of the agreement. The first appellate declined the appeal, and concluded that they were never prepared to perform their part of the contract.This was affirmed by the High Court.
- The courts relied on Jugraj Singh v. Labh Singh, which had substantially similar facts. It was decided in the case that as per Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act, in a suit for specific performance, readiness and willingness on the plaintiff's part was necessary only to the vendor, not to subsequent purchaser.
Section 16(c) Specific Relief Act, 1963-The section lays down personal bars in obtaining relief. Under subsection ‘c’, this included a person who has failed to “aver and prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract”.
Whether theplaintiff and her legal representatives were ready and willing to perform their part of the contract?
- The High Court and the Trial Courts have heavily relied upon Jugraj Singh, where it was stated, that “the subsequent purchasers have got only the right to defend their purchase on the premise that they have no prior knowledge of the agreement of sale with the plaintiff. They are bona fide purchasers for valuable consideration. Though they are necessary parties to the suit, since any decree obtained by the plaintiff would be binding on the subsequent purchasers, the plea that the plaintiff must always be ready and willing to perform his part of the contract must be available only to the vendor or his legal representatives, but not to the subsequent purchasers”.
- The obligation imposed by Section 16 is on the court to not give specific performance when a plaintiff does not meet requirements of clauses (a), (b) and (c). Hence, a court cannot grant performance to a plaintiff who fails to prove they were always ready and willing to perform their part of the agreement.
- Any defendant can contend that requirements of Section 16 are not fulfilled, but it is upto the court to decide if the requirements are complied with. According to this reasoning, the court felt that the conclusion drawn in Jugraj Singh was erroneous.
- The court thus felt that in these circumstances, the appeal should be remanded to the Trial Court to determine if the plaintiff of the first suit was ready and willing to perform her part of the contract.
In the present case, the prayer for specific performance was raised. The trial court and the High Court based their judgement on a case with similar circumstances, where readiness of plaintiff was only required to vendor and not subsequent purchaser. But the Supreme Court found this conclusion flawed and asked for a re-evaluation of case. The requirements under Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act have to be fulfilled before a specific performance is granted by the court.
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