Balmukand V. Kamla Wati & Ors

Granting specific performance is always in the discretion of the court

Case Name: Balmukand V. Kamla Wati & Ors.

Case Number: Appeal No. 7 of 1962

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: MUDHOLKAR, J.R.

SUBBARAO, K.

Decided On: 27/01/1964

Relevant Acts and Sections: Contract   by manager to sell joint   property—Specific Performance when ordered–Hindu Law–Joint family.

  • BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
  • The plaintiff owned 79/120th share in Kasra he purchased 23/120th share in this land belonging to one Devisahai.  He thus became owner of 17/20th share in this land.  The remaining 3/20th share belongs to the  joint Hindu  family  of  which Pindidas was the  Manager  and  his brother  Haveliram Khemchand and Satyapal were the  members.
  • He, therefore, approached Pindidas in the matter and the latter agreed to sell the 3/20th  share  belonging to the family at the rate of Rs. 250 per marla. The contract in this regard was entered into on October 1 and Rs. 100 were paid to him as  earnest money.
  • But as the manager of the family failed to execute the sale deed in his favour, the plaintiff instituted the suit and made Pindidas and his brothers defendants thereto.
  • He had instituted the suit in the court of Sub-Judge, First Class, Batala, who dismissed it in its entirety.  Upon appeal the High Court of Punjab, while upholding the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim for specific performance, modified the decree of the trial court and ordered the defendants to  repay to  the plaintiff the earnest money which he had  paid  when the contract of sale was entered into by him with  Pindidas.
  • Aggrieved by the dismissal of his claim for specific performance the plaintiff has come up to this Court by a certificate granted by the High Court, under Art.  133 of the Constitution.
  • ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
  • Whether specific performance should be allowed in the present appeal.
  • RATIO OF THE COURT
  • The Court was of the view that for a transaction to be regarded as one which is of benefit to the family it need not necessarily be only of a defensive character.
  • In the present case there is nothing in the plaint to suggest that Pindidas agreed to sell the property because he found it difficult to manage it or because he found that the family was incurring loss by retaining the property. Nor again is there anything to suggest that the idea was to invest the sale  proceeds in some profitable manner.
  • Even though the fraction of the family’s share of the land owned by the family bore a very small proportion to the  land  which  the  plaintiff held at  the  date  of  the transaction.   But that was indeed the case even before  the purchase  by  the  plaintiff  of  the  23/120th  share  from Devisahai. There is nothing to indicate that the  position of  the family vis-a-vis their share in the land had in  any way  been  altered by reason of the  circumstance  that  the remaining  17/20th interest in the land came to be owned  by the plaintiff alone.
  • The Court observed where  adult  members are  in  existence  the judgment is to be not  that  of  the manager  of the family alone but that of all the adult  members of the family, including the manager.  In the case before us all the brothers of Pindidas were adults when the contract was entered into.  There is no suggestion that they agreed to the transaction or were consulted about it or even knew of the transaction.
  • The court observed that for a transaction to be regarded as of benefit to the family it need not be of defensive character so as to be binding on the family. In each case the court must be satisfied from the material before it that it was in fact such as conferred or was reasonably expected to confer benefit on the family at the time it was entered into.
  • Apart from that it is clear that the adult members of the family have stoutly  resisted the plaintiff’s claim for specific performance and we have no doubt that they would not have done so if they  were satisfied that the transaction was of benefit to the family.
  • DECISION HELD BY COURT:
  • The Court held that the courts below were right in dismissing the suit for specific performance. It added that granting specific performance is always  in the  discretion  of the court and in a case  of this  kind the court would be exercising its discretion right by refusing specific performance.
  • Appeal was dismissed with costs.

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