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Saturday, May 18, 2013


The ultimate question that has now to be considered is whether the Plaintiff should be held to be entitled to a decree for specific performance of the agreement of 22.12.1970. The long efflux of time (over 40 years) that has occurred and the galloping value of real estate in the meantime are the twin inhibiting factors in this regard. The same, however, have to be balanced with the fact that the Plaintiffs are in no way responsible for the delay that has occurred and their keen participation in the proceedings till date show the live interest on the part of the Plaintiffs to have the agreement enforced in law.

The discretion to direct specific performance of an agreement and that too after elapse of a long period of time, undoubtedly, has to be exercised on sound, reasonable, rational and acceptable principles. The parameters for the exercise of discretion vested by Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 cannot be entrapped within any precise expression of language and the contours thereof will always depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The ultimate guiding test would be the principles of fairness and reasonableness as may be dictated by the peculiar facts of any given case, which features the experienced judicial mind can perceive without any real difficulty. It must however be emphasized that efflux of time and escalation of price of property, by itself, cannot be a valid ground to deny the relief of specific performance.

Efflux of time and escalation of price of property, are to be read as a bar to the grant of a decree of specific performance would amount to penalizing the Plaintiffs for no fault on their part; to deny them the real fruits of a protracted litigation wherein the issues arising are being answered in their favour. From another perspective it may also indicate the inadequacies of the law to deal with the long delays that, at times, occur while rendering the final verdict in a given case. The aforesaid two features, at best, may justify award of additional compensation to the vendor by grant of a price higher than what had been stipulated in the agreement which price, in a given case, may even be the market price as on date of the order of the final Court.

- Satya Jain (D) Thr. L.Rs. and Ors Vs Anis Ahmed Rushdie (D) Thr. L.Rs. and Ors. (AIR 2013 SC 434)

Prepared by: S. Hemanth
Advocate at Hemanth & Associates