Specific Relief Act & CPC interplay: A Deeper Look into Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 and Order 7 Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC)
The Himachal Pradesh High Court recently delivered a significant ruling concerning Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and Order 7 Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). The bench, led by Justice Vivek Singh Thakur, provided valuable insights into the interpretation and application of these legal provisions.
Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963
Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, states:
“Any person entitled to any legal character, or to any right as to any property, may institute a suit against any person denying, or interested to deny, his title to such character or right, and the court may in its discretion make therein a declaration that he is so entitled, and the plaintiff need not in such suit ask for any further relief: Provided that no court shall make any such declaration where the plaintiff, being able to seek further relief than a mere declaration of title, omits to do so.”
Justice Thakur clarified that Section 34 does not automatically bar a suit for mere declaration of title, even if the plaintiffs could have sought additional consequential relief. The section does not mandate that a declaratory suit without consequential relief, which plaintiffs being able to seek have omitted to do so, is not maintainable at all. Rather, it provides that no such declaration shall be made by the Court for omission on the part of the plaintiffs to seek further relief other than mere declaration of title which could have been sought by the plaintiffs.
Order 7 Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC)
Order 7 Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) provides grounds for the rejection of a plaint. The main contention raised by the petitioners was that the respondents, who claimed ownership of the disputed property, had never been in possession. The petitioners argued that since the suit was for a declaration without seeking the consequential relief of possession, it was barred by Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act.
The respondents countered this argument by stating that their visits to their grandfather’s property, even after his demise, demonstrated their possession. They asserted that the question of possession should be adjudicated during the main suit and that the application to reject the plaint was premature.
Justice Thakur emphasized that possession is a fact to be established through evidence during the trial and cannot be determined solely based on the contents of the plaint. He noted that the suit filed by the respondents was not merely for a declaration but included consequential reliefs such as permanent prohibitory injunction and damages.
Implications and Conclusion : Specific Relief Act & CPC Dynamics
In conclusion, Justice Thakur upheld the impugned order, affirming the rejection of the application under Order 7 Rule 11 (d) CPC. This case serves as a reminder of the nuanced interpretation and application of legal provisions, highlighting the importance of understanding the law in its entirety. The implications of this judgment are far-reaching, as it provides clarity on the interpretation of Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and its interplay with Order 7 Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). It underscores the importance of seeking appropriate relief in a suit and the consequences of failing to do so.