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Kanshi Ram Vs. Om Prakash Jawal & Ors [1996] INSC 548 (15 April 1996)

Ramaswamy, K.Ramaswamy, K.G.B. Pattanaik (J)

CITATION: 1996 SCC (4) 593 JT 1996 (4) 733 1996 SCALE (4)194

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

O R D E R

Leave granted.

This appeal by special leave arises from the judgment and order dated April 18, 1995 of the Delhi High Court made in RFA No.217/72. The admitted position is that an agreement of sale dated April 7, 1969 was executed to convey the property on the plot of land admeasuring 100 square yards situated in Dayanand Colony, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi for Rs.16,000/- and Rs.2,500/- was paid as earnest money. The respondent filed the suit on July 13, 1970 for the specific performance if the agreement and also claimed, alternatively damages for a sum of Rs. 12,00/- with interest payable thereon. The courts below have granted the decree for specific performance. Thus this appeal by special leave.

The learned counsel for the appellant has fairly contended that specific performance of the contract is within the discretion of the Court and is not a matter of course. The courts in granting the decree for specific performance should exercise the discretion on sound principles of law. In the event of working out the equities, the courts would in an appropriate case, grant alternative relief, stead of granting the decree for specific performance. In support thereof, he sought to place reliance on the judgment of this Court in S.Rangaraju Nidu v. S. Thiruvarakkarasu [AIR 1995 SC 1769]. He contended that the appellant is prepared to pay a sum Rs.10 lakhs as alternative relief; though the respondent claimed Rs.12,000/- instead of granting specific performance at this distance of time which word be unjust, inequitable and unfair.

It is contended by learned counsel for the respondents that the respondent had secured balance honey and he was always ready did willing to perform his part of the contract which inding was affirmed by both the courts below; the appellant had avoided execution of the sale deed; therefore, the courts below have rightly granted the decree; and there is no justification for interference with the decree granted by the courts below.

Having regards to the facts of this case and the arguments addressed by the learned counsel, the question that arises for consideration is: whether it would be just, fair and equitable to grant the decree for specific performance? It is true that the rise in prices of the property during the pendency of the suit may not be the sole consideration for refusing to decree the suit for specific performance. But it is equally settled law that granting decree for specific performance of a contract of immovable property is not automatic. It is one of discretion to be exercised on sound principles. When the court gets into equity jurisdiction, it would be guided by justice, equity, good conscience and fairness to both the parties. Considered from this perspective, in view of the fact that the respondent himself had claimed alternative relief for damages, we think that the courts would have been well justified in granting alternative decree for damages, instead of ordering specific performance which would be unrealistic and unfair. Under these circumstances, we hold that the decree for specific performance is inequitable and unjust to the appellant.

The appeal is accordingly allowed. The appellant shall not again sell the property for five years. The respondents will be paid a sum of Rs. 10 lakhs within a period of three months from to-day. In case the respondents avoid receipt of the amount within the stipulated time, it would be open to the appellant to deposit the same to the credit of the plaintiff in the trial Court. In case of default, the decree would stand confirmed. No costs.

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