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Personal bars to relief

Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Section 16 – Personal bars to relief.

Specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person—

1[(a) who has obtained substituted performance of contract under section 20; or]

(b) who has become incapable of performing, or violates any essential term of, the contract that on his part remains to be performed, or acts in fraud of the contract, or wilfully acts at variance with, or in subversion of, the relation intended to be established by the contract; or

(c) 2[who fails to prove] that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract which are to be performed by him, other than terms of the performance of which has been prevented or waived by the defendant.

Explanation.—For the purposes of clause (c),—

(i) where a contract involves the payment of money, it is not essential for the plaintiff to actually tender to the defendant or to deposit in court any money except when so directed by the court;

(ii) the plaintiff 3[must prove] performance of, or readiness and willingness to perform, the contract according to its true construction.

1. Subs. by s. 7, ibid., for clause (a) (w.e.f. 1-10-2018).
2. .Subs. by s. 7, ibid., for “who fails to aver and prove” (w.e.f. 1-10-2018).
3. Subs by s. 7, ibid., for “must aver” (w.e.f. 1-10-2018).


CASE LAW REFERENCE

Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act provides certain bars to the relief of specific performance. These include, inter alia, a person who fails to aver and prove that he has performed or has always been “ready and willing” to perform the essential terms of the contract which are to be performed by him, other than terms the performance of which has been prevented and waived by the defendant. Section 16(c) mandates “readiness and willingness” of the plaintiff and is a condition precedent to obtain the relief of specific performance. It is also clear that in a suit for specific performance, the plaintiff must allege and prove a continuous “readiness and willingness” to perform the contract on his part from the date of the contract. The onus is on the plaintiff. It is the mandate of the statute that the plaintiff has to comply with Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act and when there is non-compliance with this statutory mandate, the court is not bound to grant specific performance and is left with no other alternative but to dismiss the suit. It is also clear that readiness to perform must be established throughout the relevant points of time. “Readiness” refers to the financial capacity and “Willingness” refers to the conduct of the plaintiff wanting the performance. The factum of readiness and willingness to perform the plaintiff’s part of the contract is to be adjudged with reference to the conduct of the party and the attending circumstances. The court may infer from the facts and circumstances whether the plaintiff was ready and was always ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. The plaintiff must establish that he was “ready and willing” to perform the contract. In this regard, the conduct of the plaintiff must be consistent. Shenbagam v. KK Rathinavel [Supreme Court of India, 20 January 2022]

Shenbagam v. KK Rathinavel

Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Merely averring that the plaintiff was waiting with the balance consideration and believed that the defendant would clear the encumbrance is insufficient to prove that the plaintiff was willing to perform his obligations under the contract.