Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act specifically provides that Court’s discretion to grant decree of specific performance is discretionary but not arbitrary and this discretion must be exercised in accordance with sound and reasonable judicial principles
The remedy for specific performance is an equitable remedy. What should the Court do while granting decree of specific performance was the issue dealt with by the Court. It was held that while granting the decree the Court exercises its discretionary jurisdiction. Section 20 of the Specific Relief Act specifically provides that Court’s discretion to grant decree of specific performance is discretionary but not arbitrary and this discretion must be exercised in accordance with sound and reasonable judicial principles. The equitable discretion to grant or not to grant a relief for specific performance depends upon the conduct of the parties. The necessary ingredient has to be proved and established by the plaintiff so that discretion is exercised judiciously in favour of the Plaintiff. At the same time, if the Defendant does not come with clean hands and suppresses material facts and evidence and mislead the Court then such discretion should not be exercised by refusing to grant specific performance.
In the instant case, the Defendant No. 2 held a registered power of attorney on behalf of Defendant No.1 to sell and dispose of the property, but they not only made a false statement on affidavit that the power of attorney had authorized the second Defendant only to look after and manage the property but also withheld the said power of attorney from the Court in order to misguide the Court from truth of the facts. Further, by registered agreement the defendants agreed to sell the suit premises after receiving advance consideration but they denied the existence of the agreement in their pleading. Such type of conduct of the parties or Defendants in the present matter disentitle them to ask the Court for exercising discretion in their favour by refusing to grant a decree for specific performance. Further, if a party to a lis does not disclose all material facts truly and fairly but states them in distorted manner and mislead the Court, the Court has inherent power to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction in order to prevent abuse of the process of law. Efflux of time and escalation of price of the property by itself cannot be a valid ground to deny the relief of specific performance. But the Court in its discretion may impose reasonable conditions including payment of additional amount to the vendor. Further, he plaintiff cannot be denied specific performance only on account of phenomenal increase of price during the pendency of litigation.
[Zarina Siddiqui vs. A. Ramalingam alias R. Amarnathan]