NEW DELHI: To ensure ease of doing business in India, the Centre is all set to amend the 52-year-old law on specific relief that deals with infrastructure and public-private partnership projects, putting the burden of compensations and penalties on land acquirers and industry.
The expert committee set up to examine the Specific Relief Act, 1963, submitted its report to Union Law and Justice Minister D V Sadananda Gowda recommending changes in contract-based infrastructure development, public private partnerships and other public projects involving huge investments.
The amendments will definitely attract greater foreign investment and send a message across to foreign companies that were until now hesitant about doing business in India, thanks to its long-drawn litigation process.
According to the Committee, changes are required so that specific performance is granted as a general rule and grant of compensation or damages for non-performance remains an exception. It was also recommended that changing damages for non-completion being the rule and specific performance being the exception to specific performance being the rule and damages being the alternate remedy.
It has also provided guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive relief.
“Any public work must progress without interruption. This requires consideration whether a court’s intervention in public works should be minimal.
Smooth functioning of public works projects can be effectively managed through a monitoring system and regulatory mechanism. The role of courts in this exercise is to interfere to the minimum extent so that public works projects will not be impeded or stalled,” the report stated.
The move is significant as it comes at a time when the Supreme Court and several High Courts are hearing petitions filed by environmentalists and NGOs challenging proposed ventures on the grounds that they damage ecology.
The Committee has provided guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive relief. The Modi government had identified the Specific Relief Act as one of the laws stalling development.
The Centre has asked the law Commission to simplify laws for the clearance of projects to promote an investor-friendly climate.