Laws could get classified into three types:
- Those that define rights
- Those that define remedies
- Those who define the procedure
The second category includes the Law of Specific Relief that governs remedies. Specific Relief refers to relief in species, a remedy aimed at the exact fulfilment of a duty.
A suit under the Specific Relief Act might be brought to compel the person in default to perform the contract. This relief can be positive or negative. It is positive when there is a claim to its performance and negative when desired to prevent something being enjoined or undertaken as not to be done.
History of Specific Relief Act
Even after India gained independence in 1947, the common law doctrine of equity was traditionally followed. However, the Parliament of India passed the Specific Relief Act in 1963, following the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in its ninth report on the act. The Specific Relief Bill 1962 was introduced in Lok Sabha in June 1962, repealing the earlier Specific Relief Act of 1877.
Interestingly, the Equity Courts in England invented the said Specific Relief Act. Before the invention of Specific Relief in England, the only remedy was damages, under which the party in breach did not have to perform the promise. Sometimes the damages would be insufficient, so the Equity Court developed certain reliefs known as “Specific Relief” to alleviate such hardships.
The aforementioned Specific Relief Act is based on equity, justice, and good conscience. As a result, for a Specific Relief Act to get enforced, it must be specifically pleaded. In a situation not covered by the aforementioned Specific Relief Act, the Indian Courts may exercise their inherent powers under Section 151 of the C.P.C.
Remedies available under the Specific Relief Act
Remedies available under the Specific Relief Act,1963 could be divided into:
- Preliminary Section (1-4)
- Reliefs Section (5-44)
- Specific Relief Section (5-35)
- Preventive Relief Section (36-44)
Recovering the possession
This Act provides for two types of recovery of possession: recovery of immovable property and recovery of movable property. The law of the Specific Relief Act of 1963 gets based on the fundamental principle that “possession is itself prima facie evidence of ownership.”
Regaining possession of the immovable property
Section 5 describes the remedies available to a person who got evicted from his property. If a person has been removed through the line of possession or wishes to recover what is lawfully his property, he may do so through the recovery procedure provided by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in which he will demonstrate that the title belongs to him.
Section 6 of this Act states that if a person is dispossessed or divested of property in violation of the law, that person may file a suit for recovery of possession. This section is more than just a legal rule; it also has a broad practical application. The following are the essential requirements for fulfilling recovery under this section:
- The person suing for repossession must own the property in question.
- The person must get evicted from the property, and the eviction must be done illegally or in violation of the nature of the law.
- The person suing must be evicted without his or her consent.
- Section 6 sub-clause (2) states that no suit may get purchased after six months from the date of dispossession.
- Section 6 sub-clause (2) also states that no person may file a lawsuit against the government.
Regaining possession of the movable property
Section 7 states that if a person wishes to reclaim possession of the movable property, they must follow the procedure outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Section 7 has two sub-clauses. One explains that a trustee may file suit against the beneficial interest he was entitled to. And the other sub-clause explains that ownership of the property can also be expressed with the presence of a special right granted to the person suing, which would be sufficient as an essential to file a suit.
Section 7’s essentials are as follows:
- There must be the presence of movable property that can be delivered or disposed of.
- The person suing must own the property at issue.
- There could be a special or temporary right to the property.
Section 8 of the Specific Relief Act of 1963 states that when a person owns an article of which he is not the owner, he is obligated to deliver such article to the person who will have immediate possession of it in the following circumstances:
- When the defendant holds the article as the trustee of a person who has immediate possession
- When monetary compensation is insufficient
- When it is difficult to determine the actual damage done to the person
- When possession of the article gets wrongfully transferred from the person entitled to it.
Section 10 specifies the conditions under which condition-specific performance of the contract may get enforced. Specific performance is usually at the discretion of the court, but there are certain conditions for performance that are listed below:
- The damages or loss incurred due to the contract’s non-performance cannot be determined.
- When monetary compensation is insufficient to compensate for non-performance of the contract
Unless the contrary is proven, the court presumes that:
(i) the breach of contract of immovable property cannot be adequately fulfilled by money, and
(ii) the breach of contract of movable property can be relieved except in the cases of:
- the property is not an ordinary article of commerce, and
- the defendant is kept as a trustee for the property.
Section 27 deals with contract recession; in law, contract recession means contract withdrawal or, in simpler terms, contract cancellation. It places the party in the same position as if the contract never happened, i.e. status quo ante or in its original state.
Preventive relief gets defined as any relief that prevents a party from performing any act; a relief from the court that specifies that the party should not perform certain acts for which the relief gets prescribed. Injunctions could get used to imposing such relief.
Judgments of Historical Importance
Dibyendu Kundu vs. Geeta Rani Paul
The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that when a plaintiff files a suit for dispossession, it is sufficient if he proves that he is entitled to the title to that property. Other details, such as being divested from the property or other things, are not required to be proven once the title gets established.
The Specific Relief Act provides a set of reliefs to the parties, which has various reliefs and enforcing rules to provide adequate compensation to all. The main goal of the Specific Relief Act is that no one should have to live with the consequences of their actions, and those who have caused such a situation must be able to reclaim any illegal benefits they have received. The said Specific Relief Act focuses on providing justice to all rather than unfairly favouring one party.
FAQs on Specific Relief Act
What is the goal of the Specific Relief Act?
The Specific Relief Act establishes the remedies available to parties whose contractual or civil rights have been violated.
What contracts can the Specific Relief Act specifically enforce?
Section 11 of the Specific Relief Act specifies the circumstances in which specific performance of contracts related to trusts is enforceable.
Who has the right to sue for specific performance?
A suit for specific performance may be filed in a court of competent jurisdiction by any party who has suffered loss as a result of the other party to the contract's failure to perform.
When is it permissible to refuse an injunction?
Injunction relief may get denied due to delay, laches, or acquiescence, the applicant has not come with clean hands or suppressed material facts, or where monetary compensation is adequate relief.