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Ravi Setia Vs. Madan Lal and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (04 Oct 2019)

Specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person who fails to prove readiness to perform essential terms of agreement



The Plaintiff assails correctness of the order allowing the second appeal of the Defendants. By the impugned order, the High Court set aside the concurrent orders of the Courts below decreeing the Plaintiffs suit for specific performance. Learned Counsel for the Appellant-Plaintiff, submitted that, the High Court in a second appeal ought not to have interfered with a concurrent finding of fact that, the Plaintiff was ready and willing to perform his part of the obligations under the agreement.

There can be no straight jacket formula with regard to readiness and willingness. It will have to be construed in the facts and circumstances of each case in the light of all attending facts and circumstances.

The grant of relief for specific performance under Section 16(1)(c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 is a discretionary and equitable relief. Under Section 16(1)(c), the Plaintiff has to demonstrate readiness and willingness throughout to perform his obligations under the contract. Undoubtedly, the time for deposit could be extended under Section 28 of the Act. But the mere extension of time for deposit does not absolve the Plaintiff of his obligation to demonstrate readiness and willingness coupled with special circumstances beyond his control to seek such extension. The Plaintiff did not aver in the application that, he was ready and willing to perform his obligations and was prevented from any special circumstances from doing so. The pendency of an appeal by the Defendant did not preclude the Plaintiff from depositing the amount in proof of his readiness and willingness.

The High Court has rightly observed that, there was no stay by the Appellate Court of the decree under appeal to justify non-deposit during the pendency of the appeal. The grant of extension of time cannot ipso facto be construed as otherwise demonstrating readiness and willingness on part of the Plaintiff.

According to normal human prudence, land price escalates over time. Unless it be a situation of a distress sale, no land owner will sell his land for a lesser price than what may have been recorded in an agreement for sale. The fact that, the Defendants Nos. 1 and 2 subsequently sold the land on 16.01.1991 to Defendants Nos. 4 to 7 at a lesser price, due to personal necessity, also mitigates against the plea of the Plaintiff that, he was ready and willing to perform his part of the obligations under the contract.

In a second appeal, the High Court ought not to enter into re-appreciation of evidence to arrive at new findings, except on pure questions of law. But if the findings are perverse, based on complete mis-appreciation or erroneous consideration of evidence, and the failure to consider relevant evidence, it becomes a question of law. The Plaintiff failed to prove readiness and willingness to perform its obligations under the agreement for sale. The appeal is dismissed.


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