INTRODUCTION TO THE OUTLINE OF THE ACT
A large number of remedial aspects of law have been taken care of by the Specific Relief Act of 1963 (47 of 1963). This Act is a replacement for the earlier Act of 1877. This Act does not confer any rights in reliefs in itself. It only provides a specific relief so as to remedy the violating of a legal right.
The network of reliefs allowed by the Act falls under the following outlines:
1. Recovery of possession property (Chapter I)
2. Specific performance of contracts (Chapter II)
3. Rectification and cancellation of instruments and rescission of contracts (Chapters III, IV and V)
4. Preventive relief (Part III)
5. Declaratory relief (Chapter VI)
OUTLINE AS ALTERED BY THE SPECIFIC RELIEF (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2018
Specific performance, the general right
Specific performance has become a general right and not merely discretionary.
Persons who can seek and against whom
The amendment carries the list of persons who may seek specific performance and against whom such performance may be sought. It may be individuals or corporate bodies and now includes the new corporate body of a limited liability partnership.
The party whose contract has not been performed, has been given the option to arrange for performance of the contract by a third party or by his own agency to be called "substituted performance".
Relief of injunction
The amendment seeks to prevent courts from granting injunctions in contracts related to infrastructure projects, if such an injunction would hinder or delay completion of the project.
The amendment provides for creation of special courts. Certain civil courts may be designated as special courts by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, which has the mandate to adjudicate cases on contracts relating to infrastructure projects.
Recovery of possession
The amendment additionally permits a person through whom the dispossessed person got possession of the immovable property to file a civil suit for recovery.
The amendment inserts a new provision for engaging technical experts in suits where expert opinion may be needed.
Recovery of possession of the immovable property
Recovery of specific immovable property [S. 5]
This section deals with action for the recovery of possession of specific immovable property based on title. The essence of the section is that whoever proves a 'better title' is a person "entitled to possession".
Suit by person dispossessed of immovable property-
(1) If any person is dispossessed without his consent of immovable property otherwise than in due course of law, he or any person [through whom he has been in possession or any person] claiming through him may, by suit, recover possession thereof, notwithstanding any other title that may be set up in such suit.
(2) No suit under this section shall be brought -
(a) after the expiry of six months from the date of dispossession; or
(b) against the Government.
(3) No appeal shall lie from any order or decree passed in any suit instituted under this section, nor shall any review of any such order or decree be allowed.
(4) Nothing in this section shall bar any person from suit to establish his title to such property and to recover possession thereof.
Under Section 5, a person who has been dispossessed can get possession on the basis of title, whereas under Section 6, a person dispossessed may recover possession merely by proving previous possession and subsequent wrongful dispossession.
The objectives which Section 6 seeks to achieve are:
(i) To discourage people from taking the law into their own hands, however good their title may be.
(ii) To provide a summary, cheap and useful remedy to a person dispossessed of immovable property otherwise than in due course of law.
Section 6 is applicable only if the plaintiff proves -
1) that he was in juridical possession of the immovable property in dispute;
2) that he had been dispossessed without his consent and otherwise than in due course of law, and
3) that the dispossession took place within six months from the date of the suit.
Possession here means legal possession which may exist with or without actual possession and with or without a rightful origin. Thus, where a trespasser is allowed to continue on the property and the owner makes no efforts to remove him, the trespasser will gain possession under Section 6.
Recovery of possession where possession gratuitous
Where the grant of possession was purely gratuitous, the owner has the right to reclaim possession even without the knowledge of the person in possession.
Application of Limitation Act
Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 applies to proceedings against dispossession.