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Subsequent purchaser open to challenge readiness and willingness on plaintiff’s part in Specific Performance Suit: Supreme Court

The entire perspective with which the matter regarding the right of the subsequent purchaser to challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff was considered by the High Court was clearly erroneous. This was said in the case of Kadupugotla Varalakshmi Versus Vudagiri Venkata Rao & Ors [Civil Appeal No.543 Of 2021] by Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit  Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee Hon’ble Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph in the Supreme Court of India

The facts of the case are that a suit seeking specific performance was dismissed by the Trial Court inter alia that the plaintiff had failed to prove the genuineness of the agreement. Subsequently an appeal was filed, where the High Court relying on the case of Jugraj Singh and Another vs. Labh Singh and Others [(1995) 2 SCC 31] 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 purchaser. Assailing the judgment of the Trial Court and the High Court, the appellant filed an appeal.

The appellant contended that the subsequent purchaser were not taken into account on the premise that it would not be open to a subsequent purchaser to challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff.

The Apex Court bench referred to the case of Ram Awadh (Dead) vs.Achhaibar Dubey [(2000) 2 SCC428] wherein it was said that “The obligation imposed by Section 16 is upon the court not to grant specific performance to a plaintiff who has not met the requirements of clauses (a), (b) and (c) thereof. 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. There is, therefore, 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. It also noted that the principles laid down in the judgment of Jugraj Singh were not approved in the above case.

The Court after analyzing the facts of the case in the light of the above judgment said that “High Court went on the footing that it was not open to the appellant i.e. subsequent purchaser to raise any submissions on the issue of readiness and willingness. Thus, the judgment under challenge clearly fell in serious error”. Therefore, the decision of the High Court was set aside and the matter was remitted for fresh consideration on merits.

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