Volume 31 > No 3

Hardship & Substituted Performance as Defences against Specific performance: Critique of the Recent Developments

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—Badrinath Srinivasan*

For a long time, contract law in India has beenregarded as being plagued with inefficient contract enforce-ment mechanisms. The consequence has been that projects remained incomplete for several years, thereby increasing
project completion costs and fostering litigation. All these factors have resulted in a weak regime on contract enforcement. To address these deficiencies, the Government constituted an expert committee and based on the recommendations of the said committee, introduced amendments to the Specific Relief Act, 1963 which are now in force. The amended provisions enable the promisee obtain specific performance irrespective of legitimate situations where it is not possible for the promisor to perform or where substitutes are reasonably available. This paper argues that such a legal position will lead to unjust results for the promisors/contractors and that judicial interpretation should take into account their legitimate interests.

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