Subsequent purchaser of the suit property can challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff in a suit for specific performance.
The Supreme Court of India, recently in its judgment in the case of Kadupugotla Varalakshmi v. Vudagiri Venkata Rao & Ors. , has ruled that the subsequent purchaser of the suit property can challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff in a suit for specific performance. The aforesaid judgement is given by the bench comprising of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Indira Banerjee, and Justice KM Joseph. The appeal was made against a judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2020.
Earlier the Trial Court has dismissed the civil suit seeking for specific performance by holding that the plaintiff had failed to prove the veracity of the agreement. The appeal was then laid down before the High Court which observed that the subsequent purchasers possess the right to defend their purchase on the assertion; that they have no prior knowledge of the agreement of sale with the plaintiff and he is bona-fide purchaser for valuable consideration. On the question that whether plaintiff is bound to perform his part of the contract to the subsequent purchasers, the High Court answered in negative.
The Court was of the view that any decree obtained by the plaintiff is binding to the subsequent purchaser; but the plaintiff is bound to be ready and willing to perform his obligations only to the vendor and his legal representatives; and not to the subsequent purchaser. While passing this judgment, the HC relied upon the decision in the case of Jugraj Singh .
However, the Supreme Court in the Kadupugotla Varalakshmi v. Vudagiri Venkata Rao & Ors. case set aside this decision of the High Court and highlighted the fact that the principles established in the case of Jugraj Singh were rejected in the case of Ram Awadh  by a larger bench of the Supreme Court. In the case of Ram Awadh, the Court has said that the Court is obliged under Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act; to not grant specific performance to the plaintiff; who has not met the essentials of it. The Court, therefore, may not grant the specific performance sought by him; if he himself fails to aver; and prove that he is ready and willing to perform his part of the Contract.[Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963] .
The Court further observed:
“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 he 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 Supreme Court stated that the High Court persisted on the position that; it is not open to the subsequent purchaser to challenge the issue of readiness; and willingness of the plaintiff. The Court held the decision of the High Court as clearly erroneous; and therefore set aside the High Court decision and dispatched the matter to it for fresh consideration on merits.
This article is written by Manali Agrawal, student of BA.LLB.(Hons.), of Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal.
 16. Personal bars to relief.—Specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced in favour of a person—
- (c) who fails to aver and prove that he has performed or has always been ready and willing to perform the essential terms ; of the contract which are to be performed by him, other than terms the performance of which has been prevented or waived by the defendant.
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