What do you mean by “Declaratory decree”? Explain the essential conditions for issuing the declaratory decree and its effect with the help of relevant law.
Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, deals with the provisions of declaratory decree. According to this section, if any person is entitled to any legal character or to any right as to any property and he has reasonable apprehension that any another person will deny his legal character or right or any interested person is denying his legal character or right, then in such a case, the former person can file a suit and claim declaration about such character or right.
In the leading case of L.I.C. of India vs. Smt. Iqbal Kaur, the Hon’ble court held that the threat of denying the legal character or proprietary right must be real not imaginary.
Moreover, according to section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, the declaration about legal character or proprietary right does not include declaration about pecuniary liability. Basically, it means that a person cannot file a suit to claim that he is not liable to pay monetary relief to another person.
In the leading case of Mahabir Jute Mills vs. Firm Kedarnath Ram Bharose, the Hon’ble court held that a suit for declaration that a contract between parties does not subsist and plaintiff is on that account not liable for damages for breach of contract is not maintainable under section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.
According to this section, it is not mandatory for the plaintiff to claim further relief but if the plaintiff is able to seek further relief and he does not claim any further relief alongwith claim of declaration, then in such a case, the court will not grant the declaratory decree. Here, the word further relief does not mean any other relief. It must be connected with declaratory relief.
The basic purpose behind this provision is to prevent multiplicity of proceedings. In the leading case of Bhagat Singh vs. Satnam Trans. Co., the Hon’ble court held that if a plaintiff does not claim further relief for which he is entitled alongwith declaratory relief, then in such a case, court cannot dismiss the suit. It can only refuse to grant declaratory relief.
Moreover, the court can allow the plaintiff to amend his pleading and claim further relief. Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, is discretionary in nature and it is not mandatory for the court to grant declaratory decree. It is discretion of court and if the situation occurs in which it is not worthwhile to grant declaratory relief then the court can refuse to pass declaratory decree.
In the leading case of Mahadevi vs. Saraswati, the Hon’ble court held that it is not a matter of absolute right to obtain a declaratory decree. It is discretion with court to grant it or not.