The Basics of Specific Relief Act, 1963

The Specific Relief Act provides for specific relief. Specific relief means relief, a kind of, i.e., an exact or particular, a named, fixed, or determined relief. The term provides relief of a specific kind rather than a general relief or damages or compensation. It is a remedy that aims at the exact fulfillment of an obligation or specific performance of the contract.

According to Halsbury, “It is an equitable relief, given by the Court in cases of breach of contract, in the form of judgment that the defendant does perform the contract according to its terms and stipulations.”


The Specific Relief Act was enacted in 1877. The Act was initially drafted upon the Draft New York Civil Code, 1862, and its main provisions embodied the doctrines evolved by the English Equity Courts. The Specific Relief Act, 1963 is the outcome of the acceptance by the government of the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India. A bill to repeal the Act of 1877 was introduced in Lok Sabha. Both houses of Parliament passed it, and on 13th December 1963, the President assented to the same.


The title of the Act informs that the Specific Relief Act, 1963, is a legal statute that gives out reliefs or recovery of the damages to the injured party. This Act was validated in 1963, keeping to the approach of when a person has refrained from performing a promise or fulfilling a contract, thereby causing another injury; the other is resentful and is entitled to relief under the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The Act is considered a part of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

Salient Definitions

Section 2 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 deals with various definitions:

  1. Section 2(a) talks about obligations which are the legal bonds enforceable by the law.

  2. Section 2(b) deals with the settlement, which is the delivery of movable or immovable property to their succeeding interests when it is agreed to be disposed of.

  3. Section 2(c) describes trust as an obligation annexed to property ownership and arcing out of confidence.

  4. Section 2(d) speaks about trustee, meaning the person holding trust in the property.

  5. The other undefined words are to be construed the same as given in the Indian Contract Act definitions,1872.

Relief as to Property (Sections 4 to 8)

Section 4 of the Act explains that this Act permits special relief to enforce individual rights and not press for penal laws. Thus, the enforcement under this Act only bases itself on individual civil rights, and the substantive nature must be established for that fact.

Section 5 describes the remedies available to a person if he is disposed of from his property. For example, a person has been eliminated through the line of possession or wants to recover his property lawfully; in that case, that person can go through the recovery procedure provided in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, where he would prove that he is entitled to the property.

Section 6 explains that if a person has been stripped or divested from the property against the nature of law, then he can file a suit for recovery of possession. This section is not only a mere legal rule but also has a comprehensive practical approach. For example, in Geeta Rani Paul v. Dibyendu Kundu, 1991 (AIR 395, 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 464), it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that when the plaintiff files a suit regarding the dispossession, it is enough if he proves that he is entitled to that property. Once he has proved his title, other details need not be proved.

Section 7 explains that when a person wants to recover the possession of the movable property, they can follow the procedure in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Section 7 has two sub-clauses explaining that a trustee may file a suit against the beneficial interest he was entitled to; and the other sub-clause explains that the ownership of the property can also be expressed with the presence of a special right given to the person suing, which would be enough as an essential to file a suit.

Section 8 says that when a person is in possession of the article of which is he is not the owner, shall be compelled to deliver such article to the person who will have its immediate possession in the following cases:

● When the defendant holds the article as the trustee of a person who has immediate possession.

● When compensation in money is not an adequate relief.

● When it is difficult to ascertain actual damage caused to the person.

● When the possession of the article has been wrongfully transferred from the person so entitled.

What are Preventive Relief and Injunctions?

Preventive relief is any relief that abstains a party from doing any act; a relief from the court that attributes that the party should not perform certain acts for which the relief shall be prescribed. Such reliefs can be imposed in the form of injunctions.

Injunctions are a specific order under which a party must abstain from performing any act. Injunctions under the Specific Relief Act, 1963, may be divided into different types; temporary, perpetual, and mandatory.

An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that demands that a party must do or must not do certain acts. The party that does not follow an order of injunction and fails to comply with it has to:

  1. Face both criminal and civil penalties, and

  2. Damages or sanctions


The Specific Relief Act, 1963, harmonises reliefs given to the parties to suit. They have separate reliefs and impose rules which focus on providing sufficient compensation to all. This legal statute directs that no person shall live with the damages and losses, and those who have caused such damage must be in a position to restore all unlawful benefits received by them. This Act focuses on laying out justice to all and no discrimination towards a single party.

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