To Claim Specific Performance, one must be “ready & willing” to Perform his Part

Readiness & willingness, a must to claim specific performance

When a person approaches a court for specific performance of an agreement in regard to a sale of immoveable property, the person must have performed or has been ready and willing to perform his obligation as a buyer as part of the agreement, under Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 (SRA). This is what the Supreme Court (SC) says in Shenbagam & Ors v K K Rathinavel (2022 SAR (Civ) 349).

The Section 16 (c) of the SRA mandates readiness and willingness of the buyer, in order to obtain the relief of specific performance from the court. When there is non-compliance on his part in performing his duty as a buyer as per the statutory mandate, he is not entitled to get the relief of specific performance and the court is not bound to grant it.

The onus of proving his readiness and willingness is on him. That means he is not entitled to the relief on the basis of the other party alone.

What the terms readiness & willingness mean

The term readiness in the Section of the SRA means the capacity of the plaintiff to perform the contract. It would include the financial position to pay the purchase price.

To ascertain willingness the conduct of the plaintiff has to be scrutinized. In order to do so the court may infer the facts and circumstances whether the plaintiff has performed or has been ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. The person seeking specific performance must plead and prove his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the contract.

Court can allow current market price

In deciding specific performance of an agreement, the SC in Satya Jain v Anis Ahmed Rushdie [(2013) 8 SCC 131] held that sale deed must be executed for the current market price of the suit property.

This would help avoid the other party to sell the suit property for a meagre amount agreed upon years ago.

Court can impose any reasonable condition

A three judge Bench of the SC in Nirmala Anand v Advent Corporation (P) Ltd & Others [ (2002) 8 SCC 146] held that the court has discretion to impose any reasonable condition including payment of an additional amount by one party to the other, while granting / refusing decree of specific performance.

Exercise of such a discretion by the court may ensure that no party would have unfair benefit from the decree.