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Bijai Bahadur and ors. Vs. Shri Shiv Kumar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 1166 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1985All223
ActsSpecific Relief Act, 1963 - Sections 16
AppellantBijai Bahadur and ors.
RespondentShri Shiv Kumar and anr.
Appellant AdvocateRajeshji Verma, ;P.K. Bisariya and ;J.N. Chandra, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateH.K.O. Srivastava, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....performance - section 16(c) of specific relief act, 1963 - essentials for grant of decree for specific performance - averment about performance of or readiness and willingness to perform the contract is sine qua non - mandatory requirement. - - since this is purely a legal question, i have heard the parties on this point as well. 5. as mentioned earlier, the learned counsel for the appellant has not challenged the findings of fact recorded by the courtbelow, all that he has tried to press is that the plaintiff had failed to aver his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the obligation under the agreement at all the relevant times. even where there is complete absence of a plea in defence on this point, it is the duty of the court to feel satisfied on these twin..........section 16 of the specific relief act, 1963, would read as under : --'16. personal bars to relief. specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person--(a) and (b).......... (c) who fails to aver and prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contractwhich are to be performed by him, other than terms the performance of which has been prevented or waived by the defendant. explanation.-- for the purposes of clause (c). (i) where a contract involved 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 must aver performance of, or readiness and willingness to perform the.....
Judgment:

N.N. Mithal, J.

1. In this second appeal, only a short question regarding due compliance of Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act has been raised. This was neither raised in the trial Court nor in the Court below. It is sought to be urged for the first time in second appeal here. An application seeking permission to urge this point was made but despite an opportunity being given to oppose it the same has not been availed of. Since this is purely a legal question, I have heard the parties on this point as well.

2. The appellants are transferees from the original owner. It was plaintiffs' case that the original owner had agreed to transfer the land by a written document on 27-10-1968. At the time of the execution of the agreement, part consideration was paid while the rest was to be paid at registration for which three months' time was agreed upon. Since the original owner did not execute the sale deed as agreed and began to prevaricate in the matter and later when it was rumoured that she was trying to transfer the land to the appellants, the present suit was filed, after serving a notice.

3. Both the sets of defendants denied execution of the agreement or that the plaintiff had been put into possession in pursuance thereof. In their written statement the appellant, apart from denying the agreement, had also set up a prior agreement dt. 11-8-1968 favouring them pursuant to which the sale deed was executed on 1-9-1969. According to them this was done without notice of the plaintiffs alleged agreement in a bona fide manner.

4. The trial Court dismissed the suit holding that the alleged agreement had not been executed as alleged. On appeal, the lower appellate Court, on a review of the evidence came to the conclusion that the agreement had been executed as alleged and decreed the suit.

5. As mentioned earlier, the learned counsel for the appellant has not challenged the findings of fact recorded by the Courtbelow, all that he has tried to press is that the plaintiff had failed to aver his readiness and willingness to perform his part of the obligation under the agreement at all the relevant times. In fact during the hearing, arguments were confined only to this question. To appreciate the argument advanced let us first examine the relevant provisions. Short of unnecessary portions, Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, would read as under : --

'16. Personal bars to relief. Specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person--(a) and (b)..........

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

Explanation.-- For the purposes of Clause (c).

(i) where a contract involved 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 must aver performance of, or readiness and willingness to perform the contract according to its true construction.'

6. A reading of the section shows that a decree for specific performance cannot be granted to any one who fails to aver and prove that either he had performed or had always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms of the contract. As if that was not sufficient, Explanation (ii) has been added to lay an additional emphasis on these requirements and it provides that averment about performance of or readiness and willingness to perform the contract is sine qua non in a pleading for specific performance. The nature of the provisions essentially make it mandatory and there cannot be any escape from this conclusion. The compliance of the requirements of Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act is, therefore, mandatory in nature and in the absence of necessary averments in this respect in the plaint even in the presence of proof that the plaintiff had been ready and willing to perform his part of the contract, the plaintiff cannot hope to succeed in his suit.Even where there is complete absence of a plea in defence on this point, it is the duty of the Court to feel satisfied on these twin mandatory requirements of law. Thus mere proof of readiness and willingness where the essential ingredients are absent in the pleadings must be deemed to be an exercise in vain. Proof in such cases cannot be regarded as substitute for averments which were absent in the pleadings.

7. Order VI Rule 3, C.P.C. provides that the forms in Appendix A (of the Code) when applicable, and where they are not applicable, forms of the like character, as nearly as may be, shall be used for all pleadings. Although these forms are not of a mandatory or statutory nature yet they are in substance meant for the guidance and naturally the essential requirements of the pleadings as indicated therein must find place in the pleadings of the parties. From the very nature of facts, it is not necessary that various allegations in a particular lis may be confined to the very language utilised in these forms but substantially the requirements of law must be complied with. I am not prepared to lay down that the only way in which a pleading in a suit for specific performance can be made is the one drafted in Appendix A but I must emphasise that whatever be the language employed in the pleadings, the essential ingredients and statutory requirements must find a place in the pleadings failing which the parties may incur dismissal of their suit.

8. The model forms of pleadings in a suit based on specific performance of an agreement are given in Appendix A of the Civil P.C. They are Forms Nos. 47 and 48. In Form No. 47 paras 2 and 3 mention the necessary ingredients of such pleadings and these show that in one para the thrust of the pleading is on the demand being made by the plaintiff on the defendant to perform the agreement and in the other the true emphasis is on the plaintiff's own readiness and willingness to perform his part of the agreement. In Form No. 48, these very requirements have been diversified into four paragraphs. Paras 2 and 3 deal with the tender of money and the demand being made from the defendant to execute the deed and the repetition of such demand by the plaintiff, while paras 4 and 5 of the form show the reluctance of the defendant to comply with the plaintiffs demand and the plaintiffs owncontinuous readiness and willingness to pay the purchase money. The language employed in both these forms, though different, is essentially and in substance the same. In both. after making an averment about the fact that an agreement to sell exists between the parties, the allegations are supposed to be made about the demand for performing the agreement and also specific assertion about the plaintiff's own readiness and willingness to perform his part of the agreement.

9. It will be noticed that these forms exist in the Civil P.C. even from before the time when the Specific Relief Act, 1963 was enacted repealing the previous Act. The fact that these forms have been retained in the same form and language clearly goes to show that the legislature never intended to deviate from the requirements of the pleadings as set out in these forms in spite of the fact that Section 16 is now couched in a language different from the one employed in the previous enactment.

10. The matter has been subject of interpretation by the Supreme Court as well as by this Court. In Ouseph Verghese v. Joseph Aley (1969) 2 SCC 539, the Supreme Court interpreted the law as follows : -- -

'A suit for specific performance has to conform to the requirements prescribed in Forms 47 and 48 of the First Sch. in the Civil P.C. In a suit for specific performance it is incumbent on the plaintiff not only to set out the agreement on the basis of which he sues in all its details, he must go further and plead that he has applied to the defendant specifically to perform the agreement pleaded by him but the defendant has not done so. He must further plead that he had been and is still ready and willing to specifically perform his part of the agreement.'

11. This observation of the Supreme Court was followed by a Division Bench of this Court of which I was also a member, namely, Mukhtiar Singh v. Dharampal Singh 1981 All LJ 119. The same view was taken subsequently in Narendra Bahadur Singh v. Baijnath Singh, AIR 1981 All 410 by another Division Bench of this Court. Very recently in Jagarnath Mishra v. Uma Mishra, 1984 All LJ 1 yet another Division Bench of this Court has taken a similar view and it observed as under :

'Where in a suit for specific performance there was an omission of the averment in theplaint that the plaintiff was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract, the omission rendered the plaint without a cause of action for the suit and the suit was liable to be dismissed.'

12. It is true that law does not insist upon any language or specific form in which averments as to plaintiffs readiness and willingness ought to be made. These may be made in any language which the plaintiff may choose to employ, yet as I have already observed earlier, what is essential is that the core allegations must find place in the pleadings. Even though the narration of facts and other allegations lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff was doing all within his powers to have the sale deed executed in terms of the agreement, yet this by itself may not be sufficient to spell out an averment of his willingness and readiness.

13. There seems to be an essential difference between the terms 'willingness' and 'readiness'. Since these two terms having almost a similar meaning have been used, in a sequence, it would only be fair to assume that the legislature had done this with a view to distinguish between the two. What is the difference between 'willingness' and 'readiness' must, therefore, be examined first.

14. According to Bouvier's Law Dictionary, IIIrd Revision, the expression 'ready and willing' has been defined as 'implies capacity to act as well as disposition.' In Stroud Dictionary, this expression is defined as under :

'It implies not only the disposition but the capacity to do the act.'

Plaintiff must show that non-completion of the contract was not the fault of the plaintiffs and that they were disposed and able to complete it if it had not been renounced by the defendants.'

15. In Webster Dictionary page 796, 'ready' is defined as 'prompt in performance or action' and 'willing' at page 1138 is defined as 'having the mind inclined not averse, desirous, ready, relating to or pertaining to power or process of choice, volitional'

16. Corpus Juris Secundum defines theword 'ready' is 'variously defined as meaning prepared for what one is about to do orexperience; prepared for immediate movement or action; causing no delay for lack of being prepared; equipped or supplied with what is needed for some act or event, inclined or willing.' It also mentions that 'ready' has been held to be synonymous with 'prompt' 'Willing' has been defined as 'desirous, inclined or favourably disposed in mind; ready; it has been compared with 'justified.' illingness', according to Corpus Juris Secundum, 'Signifies a mental state and may be evidenced by consent.'

17. All the above definitions clearly point out at least one thing that 'readiness and willingness' are sometimes treated as synonymous and have almost the same sense or meaning but there is a clear cut distinction between the two while 'willingness' is merely mental process, 'readiness' is something to do with translating that will into action and is preceded by necessary preparation for being in a position to be ready. In other words, we can say that while 'willingness' may he something to do mainly with a person's mental process to do an act, his readiness implies close proximity of such willingness and its ultimate physical manifestation. 'Readiness' must in all cases be backed by 'willingness' and its imminent physical action is demonstrated when it is about to be put into action. Time lag between the two may sometimes be very short, may even be negligible, but it must always be preceded by an intention or a will to do. In short, 'readiness' must be said to be the total equipment of a person who is willing to do a thing before he actually does it.

18. There may be cases where though a person may be willing, yet may not be able to do what he wills. He cannot be said to be ready to do it. In other cases, the person may possess all that is necessary to do an act. He may be ready but if the will to do is not there, his willingness will be lacking. One cannot remain unaware of such cases in which the plaintiff may go on demanding performance of the contract for keeping the agreement alive, yet really speaking he does not intend to pursue the matter but only wants to keep it alive for some ulterior motives. Since in granting specific performance the Court acts in equity, it becomes necessary that a high standard of equitable conduct must bedisplayed by the plaintiff. It is for this reason that a rigor of this kind has been provided in Section 16. It is primarily to eliminate any clement of fraud and risk of a party taking undue advantage of the other that the discretion to decree specific performance has still been left with the Court.

19. This being the legal position, we must now turn to the pleadings in this case to examine whether the pleadings in this case live up to the requirements of law as enunciated above. Paras 1 to 5 of the plaint relate to the facts that defendant 1 was the owner of the land and the circumstances in which she had agreed to transfer the land to the plaintiff and the agreement in question was executed. Paragraph 6 of the plaint, however, is the relevant one where it was alleged that after the agreement of sale in respect of disputed land had been executed, the plaintiff made a demand from defendant 1 to execute the sale deed and to get it registered but the defendant 1 having turned dishonest went on prevaricating in the matter and the plaintiff had to serve a notice dt. 20-11-1968 that within 7 days of the receipt of the notices he must execute the sale deed and have it registered in plaintiff's favour.

20. Para 7 of the plaint avers about the rumours that defendant 1 was trying to transfer the property to defendants 2 and 3 and about the fact that a notice was also issued to the likely purchasers. Paragraph 8 refers to the reply which the defendant 1 had sent in response to the plaintiffs notice in which she had mentioned about the increase in the price and that she had agreed to transfer it to defendants 2 and 3 for a higher sum. In para 9 the allegations are about the collusion between the defendant 1 and the remaining defendants. Para 11 mentions about the previous knowledge of defendants 2 to 4 about the agreement between the plaintiff and defendant 1 and that they also were liable to perform the agreement. In the next paragraph, the plaintiff has contended that he is entitled to obtain the sale deed from defendant 1 or defendants 2 to 5 on payment of Rs. 1000/- or else the Court should execute the sale dead in his favour. Alternatively refund of Rs. 1800/- paid as advance was also claimed.

21. Sri Rajesh Ji Verma, learned counsel appearing for the appellant, has vehementlyurged that none of these averments anywhere show the readiness and willingness of the plaintiff and, therefore, according to him, there was no compliance of the provisions of Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act and urged that the suit ought to have been dismissed on that ground alone. In support of his submission, he has referred to 1984 All LJ 1 (supra) particularly para 13 thereof. In that case, the learned Judges found that allegations as narrated below were not sufficient from which to infer an averment of readiness and willingness on the part of the plaintiff. The para reads as follows :

'That we the plaintiffs asked the defendant first set several times to execute the sale deed but he continued to prevaricate. At last the plaintiffs gave a registered notice D/- 19-7-1968 with acknowledgment due in which they made it clear that the defendant first set should execute the sale deed in their favour within a week and that the said notice was refused by him on 20-7-1968.'

22. These averments, in the view of the learned Judges, fail to fulfil the requirements of Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act. Sri Verma, therefore, contends that allegations in the present case also are almost in similar language and, therefore, the present case was fully covered by the aforesaid decision.

23. Sri Bhatt. learned counsel appearing for the respondent, however, vehemently urged that allegations in paras 7, 11 and 12 when read together would fully satisfy the conditions of Section 16. It was pointed out that the agreement was executed on 27th Oct. 1968 and the notice to perform it had been issued on 20th Nov. 1968 i.e. within less than a month during which period the plaintiff had been approaching the defendant 1 to execute the sale deed in his favour and this should necessarily lead one to a conclusion that the plaintiff had always been ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. It was submitted that these allegations when read together must be taken to mean an averment of plaintiff's readiness and willingness. In this manner the respondent seeks to distinguish this case and the one reported in 1984 All LJ 1. The pleadings are not to be examined in a pedantic manner but liberally, not with a view to find fault with it but to see that in spite of all the failings in drafting the allegations do add up to and meet the necessary requirements of law, to harmonise the pleadings and not to tear themapart and then see whether the essentials find a place there.

24. A careful examination of the facts of the case reported in 1984 All LJ 1 (supra) would show that the agreement in that case was dt. 6-12-1967 but the owner of the property had gifted it to some others on 17-6-1968. Notice was given on 20-7-1968 whereafter the suit was filed. The only allegation about readiness and willingness was made in para 13 of the plaint which has been quoted earlier. The trial Court had recorded a finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove that an agreement dt. 6-12-1967 had been executed by the defendant. This finding was upheld by this Court and while probing the further question whether even on the assumption that the agreement existed, the suit for specific performance could be decreed or not, the Court was of the view that on those allegations alone a case of readiness and willingness was not made out.

25. However, even on the principles laid down in various decided cases, each case has fo be decided on its own facts. In the instant case, a finding of fact has been recorded by the Court below that the agreement dt. 27-10-1968 had been executed as alleged by the plaintiff. The period for executing the sale deed was only three months but when the defendant tried to avoid executing the sale deed, a notice was issued on 20th Nov. 1968 and soon thereafter the suit was filed on 25th Jan 1969. A negations, have been made in the plaint indicating as to how the plaintiff had been acting in pursuing his remedy for getting the sale deed executed. After the agreement, in less than a month, even a notice had been issued and promptly the suit was also filed. All this clearly goes to establish that the plaintiff had been acting in a prompt manner throughout and has been taking necessary steps in furthering his object and these facts do not either show any slackness on his part or give an inkling of his unwillingness. Contrary to the circumstances of the case reported in 1964 All LJ 1 where the agreement was of 6th Dec. 1967 and the gift deed was executed by the defendant on 17th June, 1968 and thereafter the notice was given only 'on 20th July, 1968 before filing the suit and there was no other allegation as to how the plaintiff had been pursuing his remedy, the plaintiff of this case has acted with all promptitude' and utmost despatch. The facts of the two cases are.therefore, quite different. As I have already said earlier, the language is not that important and the crucial thing is the totality of the averments made in the plaint which must indicate the readiness and willingness of the plaintiff, even though by necessary inference.

26. On a careful examination of the plaint allegations from para 6 onwards, it is not possible to find any laxity on the part of the plaintiff from which one could infer that he was not acting with necessary promptness.

27. In this case since it is not seriously disputed that the agreement had been executed in favour of the plaintiff and the agreement of a prior date set up by the present appellants having been rejected, the only point that remained for consideration was about the necessary averments in the plaint. As I have discussed above, the entire allegations in the plaint when read together clearly make out a case of plaintiff's readiness and willingness and I have no hesitation in my mind that he has been successful in proving the case. It is not disputed that in his evidence the plaintiff had clearly averred that he had always been ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. In the circumstances, I do not think that the appeal has any merit.

28. In the result, the appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed with costs.


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