The court cannot modify the terms of a Consent Decree or a settlement except by consent of the parties to the Decree- High Court of Delhi.

Consent decrees can be modified by a court only when there is revised consent of the parties to the decree, or when the consent was obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake, or where a few clerical or arithmetical corrections need to made in the consent decree. Other than these conditions, a court cannot modify the terms of a consent decree or the terms of a settlement. A single judge bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr. Justice C. Hari Shankar in the matter of Connaught Plaza Restaurant Pvt. Ltd Vs. Capital Boot House(I.A. 7647/2021), dealt with an issue where the petitioner has filed an application under Section 151 of CPC, 1908 seeking extension/enlargement of time and under Order XXXIX, Rules 1 and 2, read with section 151 of CPC, 1908 for restraining the respondent from interfering with peaceful possession of the petitioner.

In the present case, the petitioner had approached the court with an application for seeking an extension of time to vacate the premises of the respondent. The counsel for the petitioner argued only on the ground that because of intervening of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions due to the lockdowns imposed by the government authorities, it became impossible for the petitioner to vacate the premises before 30th June 2021, as such date was stated in the terms and conditions of the settlement deed, which the parties agreed on. Further, the counsel of the petitioner submitted that the present Covid-19 situation was not within the contemplation of the parties when they entered into the settlement agreement. Thereby, the petitioner would require at least 3 months to remove the fixtures, furniture, and the effluent treatment plant situated on the roof of the premises. The counsel of the petitioner requested the court to grant the petitioner the required time to vacate the premises and asked that till then the respondent be restrained from forcibly evicting the petitioner from the premises.

The counsel for the respondent questioned the bona fides of the petitioner’s application. The counsel also submitted that the respondent wrote twice on 12th May 2021 and 13th June 2021 making it clear that no time beyond 30th June 2021 would be provided to the petitioner to retain the premises. Further, the counsel submitted that the respondent is unwilling to allow the petitioner to continue on the premises.

The court held that no relief can be granted to the petitioner because the terms of settlement between the respondent and the petitioner, is clear and explicit. The settlement agreement contains a clause that clearly states the petitioner cannot continue in the premises beyond 30th June 2021 and all fitting and installations must be removed before that date. The court further stated that- “at the unilateral request of one of the parties to the settlement, it is obvious that the court cannot pass an order which is violative of the terms of the settlement. Were it to do so, the court would be acting in flagrant excess of the jurisdiction vested in it”. Hence the court dismissed both the applications.

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