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Deokabai Smt Vs Uttam JT Case Summary

 Deokabai Smt Vs Uttam JT 1993 (4) SC 374

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  • The appellant, Deokabai Smt. was a widow living with her daughter and grandchildren in a certain portion of the property. On 18th January 1979, she decided to sell that portion of the property to the respondent Uttam for a sum of Rs 48000 out of which Rs 5000 was paid to the appellant as earnest money, subject to the condition that such sale shall take place only after she has a suitable living place.
  • As per the condition, the entire cost for the registration of the sale deeds and other formalities was to be borne by the respondent, and any failure in getting the deeds registered in respondent name irrespective of the nature of obstacle or due to any legal impossibility, the appellant shall return Rs 5000 with interest thereupon to the defendant.
  • On 09 July 1979 respondent sent a notice to the appellant to fulfill the formalities of the sale deed in his favor but the appellant failed to show up at the registrar’s office owing to which respondent filed the suit for specific performance in the trial court.
  • The trial Court provided for specific performance of a contract to which the appellant appealed in High Court. The High Court disregarded the trial court’s decision but ordered payment of earnest money with interest to the respondent. Aggrieved by this decision Respondent filed a Letters patent Appeal before the Division bench of the High Court that ruled for specific performance. This time the appellant was the aggrieved one and filed the appeal in Supreme Court.


Whether the agreement between the parties was contingent upon the appellant’s having a suitable accommodating place before the execution of the sale deed?

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Contractual obligation and rights, the subsistence of contractual obligation/contract. Section 56 of Indian Contract Act 1872.

Specific relief Act 1963, sections 14 and 20.


The Supreme Court, in this case, disregarded the Division bench’s view and discarded the specific performance of the contract although the court did uphold that the earnest money with the added interest should be paid back to the respondent.

The court acknowledged that the subsistence of the contract depended upon a contingency.

The appellant not having a suitable accommodation before the execution of the sale deed violated the condition precedent hence the appeal was allowed

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A special reference is made to the 455th edition of Halsbury Laws of England Vol. 9. The court stipulated the decision on the basis of contingency that was laid upon the Appellant for the execution of sale in the favor of the respondent.

The court pointed out that it was objectionable and unreasonable of the respondent to radically demand the execution of the sale deed in his favor when the appellant does not have any suitable accommodation which was one of the contingencies that were to be fulfilled for a valid contract to take place.

The court formulated that parties to the agreement have to observe what they are made to be to enter into the contract.

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Current Day Significance

  • In Kec International Limited & Anr vs Union of India & Ors[i]the legal principle enunciated by the court in the aforementioned case was cited, “that the terms of the contract are to be read as a whole and should not be treated in isolation”.
  • In Bhagwan Singh vs Teja Singh, Alias Teja Ram[ii], Consideration was laid upon the pre-determined principles that, “taking out a term and interpreting it in isolation might become a cog in the untampered flow of justice”.

  1. Kec International Limited & Anr vs Union of India & Ors (2009) 4 Cal LT, 385
  2. Bhagwan Singh vs Teja Singh, Alias Teja Ram (1995) AIR, P&H 64


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