Expert Committee on Specific Relief Act 1963

The Expert Committee set up on examining the Specific Relief Act, 1963 submitted its Report to Union Law & Justice Minister.

In its report the committee has recommended modifications in the Specific Relief Act, 1963 for ensuring the ease of doing business.

In the context of tremendous developments which have taken place since 1963 and the present changed scenario involving contract based infrastructure developments, public private partnerships and other public projects, involving huge investments; and changes required in the present scheme of the Act so that specific performance is granted as a general rule and grant of compensation or damages for non-performance remains as an exception, the committee decided:

To change the approach, from damages being the rule and specific performance being the exception, to specific performance being the rule, and damages being the alternate remedy.

To provide guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to Courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive reliefs.

To introduce provisions for rights of third parties (other than for Government contracts).

To consider addressing unconscionable contracts, unfair contracts, reciprocity in contracts etc., and implied terms.

The committee observed that there is a need to classify diverse Public utility Contracts as a distinct class recognising the inherent public interest/importance to be addressed in the Act. Any public work must progress without interruption.

This requires consideration whether a court’s intervention in public works should be minimal.

Smooth functioning of Public works projects can be effectively managed through a monitoring system and regulatory mechanism.

The role of courts in this exercise is to interfere to the minimum extent so that public works projects will not be impeded or stalled.