Relief Of Specific Performance Can Be Refused For Non Performance Of An Essential Promise In Contract: SC [Read Judgment]
"A party cannot claim that though he may not perform his part of the contract he is entitled to specific performance of the same."
The Supreme Court has observed that a vendee who does not perform one of the essential promises in a contract is not entitled to the discretionary relief of specific performance of that very contract.
In the resisting the suit for specific performance, the defendant had raised the plea that since the plaintiff had admittedly failed to pay the rent of the land in terms of Clause 3 of the agreement, he was not entitled to a decree for specific performance
The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed that the payment of rent was an essential term of the contract had failed to perform his part of the contract. A party cannot claim that though he may not perform his part of the contract he is entitled to specific performance of the same, the bench said in Surinder Kaur (D) vs. Bahadur Singh (D).
It further said:
In our considered view, he was not entitled to claim the discretionary relief of specific performance of the agreement having not performed his part of the contract even if that part is held to be a distinct part of the agreement to sell. The vendee Bahadur Singh by not paying the rent for 13 long years to the vendor Mohinder Kaur, even when he had been put in possession of the land on payment of less than 18% of the market value, caused undue hardship to her. The land was agricultural land. Bahadur Singh was cultivating the same. He must have been earning a fairly large amount from this land which measured about 9½ acres. He by not paying the rent did not act fairly and, in our opinion, forfeited his right to get the discretionary relief of specific performance.
Court Not Bound To Grant Relief Even When Plaintiff Is Legally Right
Referring to Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act, the bench said that the relief of specific performance is discretionary.
"Merely because the plaintiff is legally right, the Court is not bound to grant him the relief. True it is, that the Court while exercising its discretionary power is bound to exercise the same on established judicial principles and in a reasonable manner. Obviously, the discretion cannot be exercised in an arbitrary or whimsical manner. Sub clause(c) of sub-section (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."