- The Lok Sabha has passed the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill 2017, proposing to bring significant amendments to Specific Relief Act 1963.
Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017:
- The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 22, 2017.
- The Bill seeks to amend the Specific Relief Act, 1963.
Key features of the Bill:
- Special courts:Under the Bill, certain civil courts may be designated as Special Courts by the state government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of a High Court.
- Specific performance: Under the Act, specific performance is a limited right, which may be given by the court at its discretion, in the following circumstances: 1- when monetary compensation is inadequate;
- When monetary compensation cannot be easily ascertained.
- The Bill seeks to remove these conditions and permit specific performance by courts as a general rule.
- The Bill gives an affected party the option to arrange for performance of the contract by a third party or by his own agency (substituted performance).
- The affected party has to give a written notice of at least 30 days before obtaining such substituted performance.
- The costs in connection with such performance may be recovered from the other party.
- After obtaining substituted performance, specific performance cannot be claimed.
- Under the Act, courts can grant preventive relief (injunctions) to parties.
- The Act provides circumstances in which injunctions cannot be given, for example, to stop a party from filing a complaint in a criminal matter.
Recovery of possession:
- The Act permits the following persons to file a suit for recovery of possession of immovable property:
- A person put out of possession (dispossessed person);
- Any person claiming through such dispossessed person
- The Bill additionally permits a person through whom the dispossessed got possession of the immovable property, to file a suit for recovery.
- The Bill inserts a new provision for engaging technical experts in suits where expert opinion may be needed.
- The court will determine the terms of payment of such expert.
- The payment will be borne by both the parties.
Reasons of introducing this Bill:
- The 1973 Act is not in tune with the rapid economic growth of the country.
- The new Bill does away “with the wider discretion of courts to grant specific performance and to make specific performance of contract a general rule than exception subjects to certain limited grounds.
- The new bill will reduce uncertainit in projects for infrastructure or those involving huge public investments.
- The review of the Act will also ensure ease of doing business.
- The decision has been taken in view of tremendous developments that have taken place after 1963 and also in the context of present scenario involving contract based infrastructure development, public-private partnerships and other public projects involving huge investments and enforceability of the contracts.
- The Bill proposes to enable courts to engage experts on specific issues and to ensure their attendance.
- It makes the grant of specific performance of contracts compulsory, by taking away the discretionary power of courts.
- World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business global report places India at the 164th position on the enforcing contracts indicator. The time taken to enforce a contract in India is close to four years (1,445 days), according to the World Bank report.
Specific Relief Act, 1963
- It is law sets out remedies available to parties whose contractual or civil rights have been violated.
- It also provides a remedy that aims at the exact fulfilment of an obligation or specific performance of the contract rather than a general relief or compensation or damages.
- It sets out two main remedies to party whose contract has not been performed.
- Party may ask court to compel performance of contract (specific performance
- Party may seek monetary compensation instead of performance.