MADHAVAN (DEAD)THROUGH LRS. vs. KANAKAVALLY.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ABHAY S. OKA
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE PANKAJ MITHAL
DATE OF ORDER:
APPELLANT: MADHAVAN (DEAD)THROUGH LRS. & ANR.
The Supreme Court conducted a comprehensive analysis of the specific performance claim, highlighting the plaintiffs' contradictory pleadings. It emphasized the implicit acknowledgment of the defendant's ownership in seeking specific performance and criticized the failure to challenge the sale deed separately. The court emphasized the discretionary nature of specific performance, stressing equity, and ultimately dismissed the appeal, affirming the High Court's decision.
Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963
This section deals with the discretionary power of the court to grant specific performance of a contract. It states that the court may enforce the specific performance of a contract at its discretion and may refuse to do so if it finds that the plaintiff has not always been ready and willing to perform his part of the contract.
- The High Court overturned the Trial Court's decree in a disputed judgment.
- On 03.10.1988, the first appellant conveyed the suit property to the second appellant and the respondent via a sale deed.
- Subsequently, on 03.03.1989, the second appellant released her rights under the sale deed through a registered release deed in favor of the respondent.
- According to the appellants, on 19.03.1989, the respondent committed to a re-conveyance agreement for the suit property with the second plaintiff.
- Seeking protection, the appellants filed a suit on 29.12.1989, initially for an injunction against the respondent's potential sale to strangers.
- An amendment allowed the addition of an averment expressing the appellants' readiness to pay Rs. 29,400 to the respondent, coupled with a plea for specific performance of the 19.03.1989 agreement.
- The Trial Court granted specific performance, but the High Court, citing Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act, reversed the decision, rejecting the testimony of a key witness (PW-3).
- The Supreme Court found the appellants' case inconsistent, asserting continued possession while seeking specific performance; thus, it upheld the High Court's decision, dismissing the appeal with no costs.
1. Did the appellants, by seeking specific performance of a re-conveyance deed, contradict their own pleadings that the respondent had no right, title, and interest in the suit property, thereby creating an inconsistency in their legal claim?
2. Is the relief of specific performance justifiable when the appellants assert the respondent's lack of ownership, challenging the basis for seeking such relief in the first place?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The appellants (Madhavan and Kaladevi) contended that the sale deed executed on 03.10.1988 was merely a paper transaction and acted as security for a loan of Rs. 13,000 provided by the defendant (Kanakavally) during the financial difficulties faced by the 1st appellant.
- An agreement was entered into between the 2nd plaintiff and the defendant, intending to re-convey the property to the 2nd plaintiff or her nominee. Any amount received beyond Rs. 29,400 had to be paid to the appellants.
- The defendant's attempt to sell the property instead of fulfilling the agreement led to the filing of the suit, seeking both injunction and specific performance.
- Throughout the proceedings, the appellants maintained that they continued to be in possession, emphasizing that the defendant had no right or interest in the suit property.
- The appellants sought specific performance based on the agreement for re-conveyance, indicating their readiness to execute the sale deed.
- The appellants appealed the High Court's decision to set aside the trial court's decree for specific performance, arguing that the High Court's interference was unjustified.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The respondent contends that the appellants themselves pleaded that the respondent had no right, title, or interest in the disputed property. The respondent highlights the contradiction in the appellants' claim for specific performance, which implies recognition of the respondent as the owner, despite their earlier assertion that the respondent had no such rights.
- The respondent argues that since the appellants maintained possession and insisted on their rights in the property, there was no necessity to seek specific performance compelling the respondent to execute a re-conveyance deed.
- The respondent points out that the appellants failed to initiate a separate suit declaring the sale deed as null and void, reinforcing the inconsistency in their legal position.
- The respondent emphasizes the Supreme Court's observations regarding the contradictory nature of the appellants' claims, leading to the dismissal of the plea for specific performance. The Court's decision aligns with the fact that seeking such relief implies acknowledgment of the respondent's ownership.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT
The Supreme Court denied the plea for specific performance, noting that the claim implied the opposite party's ownership, contradicting the plea that the party had no right to the property. The court highlighted inconsistencies in the plaintiffs' case, stating that seeking specific performance suggested the defendant's ownership. The court emphasized that the relief couldn't be sought when the plaintiffs asserted the defendant had no right to the property. The lack of a suit declaring the sale deed void further weakened the appellants' case, leading to the dismissal of the appeal.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court rejected the request for specific performance in the Madhavan vs. Kanakavally case, highlighting a significant contradiction in the plaintiffs' arguments. The court stressed that seeking specific performance suggested acceptance of the defendant's ownership, contradicting the plaintiffs' claim that the defendant had no rights to the property. The failure to separately challenge the sale deed's validity and the absence of fair grounds weakened the plaintiffs' position. The Court upheld the High Court's decision, emphasizing the discretionary nature of specific performance and the importance of maintaining consistency in legal claims.