Parties Not Entitled To Specific Relief If Readiness And Willingness To Perform Contract Not Proved – Supreme Court
The two-judge bench of Justice Indira Banerjee, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy set aside order of Madras High Court in a suit filed for specific performance of a contract for the sale of suit property holding that the Respondent-Plaintiff was not entitled to specific relief on failing to prove his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the contract.
In this case, the original Defendant had agreed to sell the suit property to the Respondent Plaintiff for consideration of Rs.15,10,000/- out of which sum of Rs.10,001/- was paid by the Respondent Plaintiff in advance. The Respondent Plaintiff was to get the sale deed registered on or before15th March 2003, upon payment of the full sale consideration. The Respondent Plaintiff approached the original Defendant with the balance consideration but to his dismay, the original Defendant denied having entered into any oral sale agreement for the sale of the suit property.
On that, the Respondent Plaintiff initiated a suit and the Trial Court found that the Respondent Plaintiff was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract, and thus entitled to the relief of specific performance. The original Defendant preferred an appeal. The Madras High Court dismissed the Appeal and upheld the judgment of the Trial Court.
Aggrieved by the Order of the High Court, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.
The counsel for the Respondent Plaintiff, Mr. N.D.B Raju, highlighted that Section 16 (c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 bars the relief of specific performance of a contract in favor of a person, who fails to aver and prove his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the contract. He further argued that it is for the plaintiff to prove readiness and willingness, which he has in this case through his actions.
Relying on the decisions of the Apex Court in N.P. Thirugnanam v. Dr. R. Jagan Mohan Rao and Ors. 1995 and Pt. Prem Raj v. D.L.F. Housing and Construction (Private) Ltd. And Anr. 1968 the bench expressed that - "In a suit for Specific Performance of a contract, the Court is required to pose unto itself the following questions, namely:-
(i) Whether there is a valid agreement of sale binding on both the vendor and the vendee? and
(ii) Whether the Plaintiff has all along been and still is ready and willing to perform his part of the contract as envisaged under Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963?"
Mr. Krishnan Venugopal Senior Advocate representing the Appellant argued that Plaintiff having paid an insignificant amount of Rs.10,001/- as advance out of the consideration of Rs.15,10,000/-. was not entitled to discretionary equitable relief of Specific Performance, as held by the Apex Court in Saradamani Kandappan v. S. Rajalakshmi (2011)
On considering the submission made by the Counsels, the Bench opined that– "the Respondent Plaintiff has failed to discharge his duty to prove his readiness as well as willingness to perform his part of the contract, by adducing cogent evidence."
The Bench also observed that -"Making subsequent deposit of balance consideration after lapse of seven years would not establish the Respondent Plaintiff's readiness to discharge his part of contract. Reliance may be placed on Umabai v. Nilkanth Dhondiba Chavan (2005) where this Court held that deposit in court would not establish Plaintiff's readiness and willingness within meaning of section 16(c) of Specific Relief Act."
It was further noted by the Bench that - "As argued by Mr. Venugopal, the fact that the suit had been filed after three years, just before expiry of the period of limitation, was also a ground to decline the Respondent Plaintiff the equitable relief of Specific Performance for purchase of immovable property."
In view of the aforementioned decisions of the Apex Court, the Bench held that the Respondent Plaintiff was not entitled to the relief of specific performance and consequently set aside the judgment and order of the High Court.