Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017

The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The Act sets out the remedies available to parties whose contractual or civil rights have been violated.

The features of the act include

  • The Act sets out two main remedies to a party whose contract has not been performed: (i) the party may ask the court to compel performance of the contract (specific performance); or (ii) the party may seek monetary compensation instead of performance.
  • Specific performance is a limited right, which may be given by the court at its discretion, in the following circumstances: (i) when monetary compensation is inadequate; or (ii) when monetary compensation cannot be easily ascertained
  • The Act contains a list of persons (i) who may seek specific performance and (ii) against whom specific performance may be sought.  This list includes: (i) a party to the contract; or (ii) a company resulting from the amalgamation of of two existing companies.
  • Courts can grant preventive relief (injunctions) to parties.  The Act provides circumstances in which injunctions cannot be given
  • The Act permits the following persons to file a suit for recovery of possession of immovable property: (i) a person put out of possession (dispossessed person); and (ii) any person claiming through such dispossessed person

The amendments proposed by the bill include: 

  • The Bill adds a new entity to the list of parties.  It now includes a limited liability partnership (LLP) formed from the amalgamation of two existing LLPs, one of which may have entered into a contract before the amalgamation.
  • The bill seeks to prevent courts from granting injunctions in contracts related to infrastructure projects, if such an injunction would hinder or delay the completion of the project.
  • The Bill seeks to the conditions and permit specific performance by courts as a general rule.
  • 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.  These courts will deal with cases related to infrastructure projects.
  • The Bill gives an affected party (i.e. a party whose contract has not been performed by the other party) the option to arrange for performance of the contract by a third party or by his own agency.
  • 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.

The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill of 2017 is meant to ensure performance of a contract, be it building a road or a bridge. This bill aims to revive and fasten the infrastructure development process. [Reference]

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