Supreme Court: In Specific Performance Suit Willingness of Plaintiff Can Also Be Challenged By Subsequent Purchaser
The Supreme Court (SC) bench consisting of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee, and KM Joseph, in its order dated 16 February 2021, observed in the case of Kadupugotla Varalakshmi v. Vudagiri Venkata Rao, that subsequent purchaser of the suit property can challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff in a specific performance suit.
The SC Bench noted that the principles laid down in the case of Jugraj Singh v. Labh Singh, [(1995) 2 SCC 31], were not approved in the case of Ram Awadh (Dead) v. Achhaibar Dubey [(2000) 2 SCC428].
The Apex Court in the instant matter stated that "A Court may not, therefore, grant to a plaintiff who has failed to aver and to prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform his part of the agreement the specific performance whereof he seeks."
The factual background of the case is that a suit seeking specific performance was dismissed by the Lower Court that held the plaintiff had failed to prove the genuineness of the agreement.
An appeal was filed before the High Court (HC) that observed that the subsequent purchasers have got only the right to defend their purchase on the premise that they have no prior knowledge of the agreement of sale with the plaintiff. It was further observed that although they are necessary parties to the suit any decree obtained by the plaintiff would be binding on the subsequent purchasers.
The HC held that the plea filed by the plaintiff must always be ready and willing to perform his part of the contract must be available only to the vendor or his legal representatives, but not to the subsequent purchasers. The HC relied on the judgment given in the case of Jugraj Singh v. Labh Singh [(1995) 2 SCC 31].
The SC stated that the principles laid down in Jugraj Singh and Another (supra) were not accepted by a larger Bench of this Court. It added, "No question of the plea being available to one defendant and not to another. It is open to any defendant to contend and establish that the mandatory requirement of Section 16(c) has not been complied with and it is for the Court to determine whether it has or has not been complied with and, depending upon its conclusion, decree or decline to decree the suit. We are of the view that the decision in Jugraj Singh case [(1995) 2 SCC 31] is erroneous."
The SC while setting aside the judgment of the HC noted that it opined that it was not open to the subsequent purchaser to raise any submissions on the issue of readiness and willingness.
The SC remitted the matter for fresh consideration on merits.