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The recovery of specific movable property is governed by Section 7 of the Specific Relief Act (hereinafter referred to as “SRA”) of 1963. This article explains the concept of specific relief in this act and delves into the statutory provisions concerning the recovery of specific movable property given under the SRA. It later describes the essentials required to pass injunctions through section 7 for the recovery of movable property and further discusses the landmark judgements passed by various courts concerning this provision. The main objective of this article is to give a brief overview of Section 7 of the SRA and decide whether the courts have correctly interpreted this provision and honoured the lawmaker’s purpose of this legislation.

The concept of specific relief

Relief in the manner prescribed is known as specific relief. It refers to a remedy that tries to ensure that an obligation is performed to the fullest. The Supreme Court of India in the matter of Adhunik Steels Ltd. v. Orissa Manganese and Minerals (P) Ltd.[1] decreed that an injunction comes under the ambit of specific relief and is in the form of a court order that obligates an individual or an organisation to perform a specified action. The apex court in the above case also held that the law of procedure is inclusive of the law of specific relief since it is a type of judicial redress and therefore the Specific Relief Act of 1963 has the authority to govern this area of law. In India, the right to property is a constitutional right enshrined under Article 300A[2] of the Constitution of India, which reads: “No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.” The introductory chapter of the SRA exclusively discusses the relief measures available to individuals and organisations in case of violations to their right to property.

Section 7 of the Act

The relevant provision for the recovery of a specific movable property is provided under Section 7 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963[3]. It reads: “A person entitled to the possession of the specific movable property may recover it in the manner provided by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908). Explanation 1. —A trustee may sue under this section for the possession of the movable property to the beneficial interest in which the person for whom he is trustee is entitled. Explanation 2. —A special or temporary right to the present possession of the movable property is sufficient to support a suit under this section.” [4]

Essential ingredients under section 7

There are three main ingredients requisite to recover specific movable property through section 7 of the act. Firstly, the plaintiff should be at all times authorized to possess the specific movable property which is the subject of the case. This authority may come by way of having special rights to the property or in most cases, being the owner of that property.

Secondly, the property which is the cause of the dispute must be tangible and capable of being ascertained. For example, if the dispute is regarding 20 units of laptops that are not delivered to the buyer, then section 7 will apply here. However, if the quantity of the laptops claimed could not be determined then the items will not be recovered under this provision, due to ambiguity and potential misuse of such provisions. It is important to note that this essential refers to the specific movable property itself and the property’s equivalent monetary value cannot be claimed under this section of the act.

Finally, the moveable property in question should have the ability to be confiscated as well as delivered. For example, even if a plaintiff demands a specific plot of land, then it cannot qualify under this provision as it cannot be delivered to some other place. This ingredient is essential to highlight the requirement of “movable property” in this section and conveniently excludes all immovable and intangible properties that cannot be claimed under section 7 of this act. Notwithstanding the second essential, a plaintiff is not entitled to a decree for recovery in specie if the goods have ceased to be recoverable or are not in the defendant’s custody or control; his sole remedy is damages or compensation.

Famous Case laws concerning Section 7 of the Act

In the case of Shahida Beevi and Ors. Vs. Kamarudheen Kunju and Ors.[5], the plaintiff filed a case in the High Court of Kerala to recover a quantity of 75 gold ornaments. The plaintiff, in this case, was entitled to the possession of the 75 sovereigns of gold ornaments. The movable property in question was specific i.e., it was capable of being ascertained and that the property was capable of being seized and delivered. The High Court of Kerala noted that as far as the present contention of the appellants is concerned, it could not be disputed that the suit was filed inter alia for recovery of movable property. “Section 7 of the Specific Relief Act indicates that a person entitled to the possession of the specific movable property may recover it in the manner provided by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.”[6] Therefore, the defendants were directed to return the 75 sovereigns of gold ornaments by way of the above-mentioned provisions.

In the case of Sanjeev Verma v. Umesh Gupta[7], the plaintiff had delivered 5 kgs of gold to the defendant for the making of jewellery. The defendant was supposed to get paid for the labour charges and return the jewellery within one month. The defendant had not returned the jewellery which was to be made from the 5kgs of gold, even after a month. Counsel for the plaintiff relied upon Sections 7 and 8 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963[8] to argue his case. He contended that where a specific moveable property is given, the court can order the return of the specific moveable property as per the aforesaid Sections of the SRA. The provisions note that it should be presumed that the plaintiff cannot be adequately compensated by money and the moveable property has to be returned to the plaintiff. Hence Justice Valmiki J Mehta of the Delhi High Court decreed directing the defendant to return the 5 kgs of gold to the plaintiff.


Since the Indian Contract Act of 1872 only provides a remedy in the form of compensation in cases of contractual violations, the remedies offered by the Specific Relief Act become necessary. The plaintiffs had no remedy for particular performance when the loss was not quantifiable while compensation in the form of relief was insufficient to compensate for their loss, and hence section 7 came in handy to resolve such disputes. By perusing through the landmark cases mentioned above, we can safely conclude that the judiciary has rightly interpreted section 7 of the SRA, honoured the lawmaker’s purpose of this legislation and helped put an end to injustices concerning the specific performance of contracts.

Author(s) Name: Bharat Manwani (Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar)


[1] Adhunik Steels Ltd v Orissa Manganese and Minerals (P) Ltd (2007) 7 SCC 125 

[2] The Constitution of India 1950, art 300A.

[3] The Specific Relief Act 1963, s 7.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Shahida Beevi and Ors v Kamarudheen Kunju and Ors MANU/KE/0507/2019

[6] The Specific Relief Act 1963, s 7.

[7] Sanjeev Verma v Umesh Gupta MANU/DE/5993/2012

[8] The Specific Relief Act 1963, s 7 and s 8.

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