Written By :- Nehraj Bisaria (Amity Law School)
As the primary purposes of the Act were vested in the very title of this legislation, that is Specific Relief, due to which we can have a basic understanding that the Specific Relief Act is a legal statute dealing with reliefs or recovery of the damages of the injured person. This Act was passed in 1963 following the strategy that the other person so aggrieved is entitled to relief under the Relevant Relief Act, 1963, if a person has withdrawn himself from the fulfillment of a particular promise or contract with respect to another person. It is considered that this Act is one of the branches of the 1872 Indian Contracts Act.
Section 2 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 deals with some important definitions which are as follows:
- Section 2(a) deals with obligations which are duties imposed on a person by the law or the legal body.
- Section 2(b) deals with the settlement that means delivery of the movable or immovable property to their successive interests when it is agreed to be disposed of.
- Section 2(c) deals with the word “trust” which has the same meaning as defined in section 3 of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
- Section 2(d) deals with the word “trustee” which means the person holding trust in the property.
All other definitions which have not been explained herein are the same as referred to the definitions of the Indian Contracts Act, 1872.
Section 4 states that special relief for the enforcement of individual rights is provided by this Act and not for the imposition of penal laws. Compliance under this Act is based solely on individual civil law and, for that reason, the substantive essence must be decided. Specific relief is linked to providing relief for the individual’s violated civil rights, to be understood in a simpler way. Its primary purpose is to concentrate on the rights and it will have to be developed to show the same if there is any penal aspect of the case.
Recovery of possession
Two heads shall allow for the recovery of ownership of this Act: the recovery of the immovable property and the recovery of the movable property. The law of Specific Relief Act,1963 works on a basic principle that “Possession is itself a prima facie evidence of the ownership”.
Recovery of the possession of immovable property
Section 5 describes the remedies available to a person when his property is disposed of. If an individual has been removed through the line of possession or wishes to reclaim what is legally his property, that individual may do so through the recovery process provided for in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in which the individual can prove that the title belongs to him.
Section 6 of this Act states that if, contrary to the purpose of the statute, a person has been dispossessed or divested from the land, that person can file a claim for possession recovery. Not only is this section a mere legal law, it has a strong practical approach as well. Under this section, there are certain necessary criteria for recovery fulfillment that are as follows:
- The person suing for dispossession must be in possession of the land.
- The person must be dispossessed of the property and the divestment of the property must be carried out illegally or contrary to the nature of the law.
- Without the permission of the party suing, the dispossession must be.
- Sub-clause (2) of Section 6 explains that no suit can be purchased by an individual after 6 months of expiry from the date of dispossession.
- Section 6 sub-clause (2) also explains that no complaint can be brought against the government by a person.
If the individual has not brought any action within the specified time span (section 6), then the only relief available to him is that provided for in section 5, that is to better prove his ownership of the land. Section 6 has certain limitations which clarify that if any order or decree in respect of section 6 has been directed by the court, no appeal or review shall be brought against such order or decree, but such order is open to review.
Recovery of the possession of movable property
Section 7 explains that a person can follow the procedure set out in the Code of Civil Procedure,1908, if he wishes to recover the possession of a movable property. There are two further sub-clauses in section 7 which further detail that a trustee may file a lawsuit against the beneficial interest to which he was entitled, and the other sub-clause explains that the ownership of the property may also be expressed in the presence of a special right granted to the suing person, which would be sufficient to file a lawsuit as necessary.
Essentials of section 7 are as follows:
- There must be a movable property presence that is capable of being supplied or disposed of.
- The person suing must be in possession of the property in question.
- The presence of a special or temporary right to property might be probable.
Section 8 of the Particular Relief Act,1963 states that if a person is in possession of an article of which he is not the owner, he shall be obliged, in the following circumstances, to give the article to the person who will have his immediate possession:
- If the defendant keeps the article as the trustee of an individual who owns the immediate possession.
- It is not an adequate relief when compensation in money.
- If it is difficult to determine the actual harm caused to the individual.
When the ownership of the article from the person so entitled has been wrongfully transferred.
Specific Performance of Specific Relief
Section 10 includes whether the contract’s condition-related performance might be enforceable, specific performance generally depends on the court’s discretion, but there are some performance requirements that are specified as follows:
- It is not possible to say whether the damage or failure occurred due to the non-performance of the contract.
- When money as compensation is not an appropriate relief because of the contact’s non-performance.
Unless proven to the contrary, the court presumes that
- The violation of the immovable property contract cannot be sufficiently satisfied by money
- The infringement of the movable property contract can be remedied except in cases where
- The property is not an ordinary article of trade,
- The defendant holds the property as a trustee of the property.
Contracts that cannot be ‘Specifically Enforced’
Section 14 mentions certain contracts which cannot be specifically enforced which are as follows:
- When the act is non-performing, money is sufficient compensation.
- A contract which is full of many specifics and is personal to the parties in its essence, cannot be strictly enforced.
- The contract includes continuing work that the court is unable to supervise.
- The court, the essence of which is determinable.
Persons against whom the contracts can be specifically enforced
Section 15 deals with the person against whom the contracts can be specifically enforced:
- Any contracting party or any suiting party.
- Interest or principal delegate, who holds some essential ingredients—
- Any exceptional talent, or any qualification.
- The principal shall not be entitled to special performance in the interest of the principal.
- Where the contract is intended to settle a marriage or to compromise the situation between the members of the family. When a homeowner has entered into a lease over an estate for life.
Enforcement of Awards
Section 21 deals with the power to award compensation; in various cases, compensation can be done through the court to the aggrieved person. There are certain cases which are as follows:
- In addition, the aggrieved party can also seek compensation if there is a claim brought for specific performance of the contract due to its violation.
- When, according to the court, the particular performance may not be granted, but there has been a breach of contract, the court may then require the aggrieved party to obtain compensation.
- If the court feels that the court’s particular success is to be given in this situation, but it would not be an appropriate relief, compensation in cash can be ordered.
No reimbursement shall be awarded where the money relief itself is not specified in the lawsuit.
Rectification of instruments
Section 26 deals with the ways in which instrument can be rectified:
- Any party or delegate in the interest may lodge a claim for correction of the instrument,
- The plaintiff may plead for rectification of the instrument in his complaint,
- The defendant may demand rectification of the instrument in his defense.
Requirement for Rectification
The party who wants to rectify the instrument firstly must give them in writing and then mention them in their pleading. No relief shall be granted when the rectification is not specifically mentioned.
Section 27 deals with the recession of the contract; recession, in law, means the withdrawal of the contract; or, in simpler words, with the revocation of the contract. It places the party in a position as if, in its original state, the contract did not exist, that is status quo ante importance.
Recession Upon Cancellation
A contract will go through the recession through any party’s pleading, except in some situations where the recession could be cancelled. The recession may be cancelled in several ways:
- If the contract has been terminated or the claimant has been found to be void;
- If the contract is unlawful.
Cancelling the contracts through recession.
In the event of a recession, a deal could be canceled:
- Where the complainant has consented to the contract himself,
- When an interest in the contract has been acquired by a third party and their rights are in doubt,
- Where only a portion of the contract is to be terminated but it is in such a position that the defective portion cannot get removed from the contract.
Cancellation of the contracts
Cancellation is one of the remedies available in a contract to the parties against injuries; section 31 to 33 deals with the cancellation by the court of the instruments.
Section 31 states that if an instrument against an individual is invalid or voidable, then if it can cause harm to it, he can get that instrument.
Section 32 deals with the partial termination of a contract; for example, in cases where there are certain rights and obligations connected by that contract with certain parties, the court may then cancel the defective component and let the other one in motion. Section 33 has two heads in it, which are powers after cancelation to the aggrieved party and orders after cancelation to the defendant.
Power of the Party Aggrieved
The aggrieved party can obtain all the restoration of benefits and compensation to ensure fairness when the contract has been successfully terminated.
Orders following cancellation to the defendant When the case against the defendant has been found voidable, he is obliged to return to the plaintiff any advantage that the defendant might have received during the contract.
Any relief which prevents a party from doing any act is considered to be preventive relief; a relief from the court detailing that the party should not commit those actions for which the relief is prescribed. In the form of injunctions, these reliefs may be enforced.
Injunctions are a particular order under which a party must abstain from any act being performed. Injunctions which be divided into different categories, namely temporary, perpetual and obligatory, under the Particular Relief Act,1963. From section 36 to 44, Injunction is stated.
Perpetual injunctions are referred to as constant injunctions. They may be enforced only after having heard the parties on the merits of the case in which the defendant enjoyed an assertion of the right and, on the contrary, by affecting the complainant. The plaintiff may be given a permanent injunction in order to avoid a violation of an obligation and to enforce rights in his favour. In such cases, where the defendants invade the right of the complainant to pleasure, a permanent injunction can be extended where:
- The trustee of the property is the defendant.
- Real harm may not be calculated.
- Money will not be sufficient relief as compensation.
- Injunctions are important for multiple decisions to be avoided.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that if the plaintiff brings a complaint concerning the dispossession, it is appropriate if he proves that he is entitled to the title of that land. Other facts such as being divested from the property or other objects are not necessary to be proven until the title is proved.
It is held by the Court that where, on a case-by-case basis, it is found that the complainant himself did not fulfill his portion of the contract or did not intend to fulfill that portion of the contract, the decision relating to a particular performance act would be given in that favour.
Prem Singh versus Birbal In this case, the Court held that if a contract is valid, there is no question that it is cancelled and if it is void ab initio (meaning that there is no presence in the law from the beginning), then there is also no chance of cancellation because it is not present in the eyes of the law. No action is enforced on it if there is no presence of a contract.
The 1963 Unique Relief Act has a collection of reliefs to accommodate the parties. They have numerous relief and compliance regulations that concentrate on providing everyone with adequate compensation. The main purpose of this legal statute is that no one shall bear the costs and losses and those who have caused such a condition must be in a position to recover all the unlawful benefits they receive. The focus of this act is to provide justice for all and not to benefit a single group inequitably.