What do you understand by “Specific Relief”? Whether specific relief can be granted for enforcement of criminal law?
Every contract is based upon mutual trust and confidence. Whenever two persons enter into a contract, they give their consent only on one belief that every party will perform his contractual obligations. Moreover, it is duty of every party to a contract to perform his contractual obligations. But it is also a right of every party that if another party does not perform his contractual obligation, then in such a case, the aggrieved party can file a suit against that party who has breached the contract and can claim relief from that party.
Whenever, a party files a suit and claims compensation, he can claim two kinds of reliefs: – 1. General Relief 2. Specific Relief
General relief is compensatory in nature and if an aggrieved party files a suit and if his loss can be ascertained and covered by giving monetary compensation, then in such a case, court grants monetary compensation to him whereas specific relief is based upon principle of equity and if an aggrieved party files a suit and his loss cannot be ascertained and covered by giving monetary compensation, then in such a case, court grants specific relief i.e., specific performance of contract, injunction, declaratory decree etc. In this, court can compel the wrongdoer to perform his contractual obligation or restrain him from breaching the terms of contract.
The concept of specific relief is founded on public policy and was developed by courts of equity. The main aim behind this concept is to protect the rights of that party who is willing to perform his contractual obligations and to save that party from unnecessary harassment, hardship and loss.
In the leading case of A.C.Arulappan vs. Ahlaya Naik, the Hon’ble court held that granting of specific performance is an equitable relief though the same is now governed by the statutory provisions of Specific Relief Act, 1963.
Moreover, according to section 4 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, the specific relief can be granted for the purpose of enforcing individual civil rights. It cannot be granted for the purpose of enforcing penal law.
According to section 4 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, if any civil right of a person has been violated by another person and because of this, his loss cannot be ascertained, then in such a case, for protecting his civil rights, specific relief is granted. But it does not mean that where penal law is involved, it cannot be granted by the court of law. If alongwith penal law, some civil rights are also involved, then for protecting civil rights of an aggrieved person, it can be granted.
For example: – A threatens B to publish defamatory material against B. It is an offence punishable under Indian Penal Code, 1860. But in this case, court can grant injunction to restrain A from doing this just to protect civil rights of B.