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Recovery of Movable Property under SRA

Recovery of Movable Property
Recovery of Movable Property


Understanding Section 7 of SRA

Section 7 provides that an individual vested with the entitlement to specific movable property may reclaim it following the procedures stipulated in the Code of Civil Procedure. 

Moreover, a trustee is empowered to initiate legal action under this section to regain possession of movable property for the benefit of the person they are entrusted to represent (Explanation 1). 


It's noteworthy that a special or provisional right to immediate possession of movable property is adequate grounds for initiating a suit under this section (Explanation 2).

The crux of Section 7. Specific Relief Act (SRA) lies in rectifying wrongful detention. The plaintiff must possess a right to immediate or current possession, without the necessity of prior possession or removal of the goods from their control.

The plaintiff need not be the owner of the movable property but may hold a temporary or specific entitlement, independently of ownership, by virtue of being a trustee, bailee, or pawnee. 

The movable property in question must be distinct, capable of being identified and ascertained. Consequently, this section does not apply when seeking relief for the recovery of money unless the contract specifically pertains to the delivery of particular coins.

For instance, if A pledges certain jewels to B as collateral for a loan, and B disposes of them prematurely, A cannot sue B for possession of the jewels without having paid or tendered the loan amount. A's entitlement is limited to securing the safe custody of the jewels, not their possession, until the loan obligation is fulfilled. Therefore, the suit should be dismissed.

Compelling Delivery of Movable Property

As per Section 8, an individual who possesses or controls a specific article of movable property, despite not being its owner, can be compelled to deliver it to the person entitled to immediate possession under the following circumstances:

(a) When the defendant holds the claimed item as the agent or trustee of the plaintiff.

(b) When monetary compensation would not adequately redress the plaintiff's loss.

(c) When determining the actual damages caused by the loss would be exceedingly difficult, such as in the case of rare pictures or antiquities.

(d) When the possession of the claimed item has been wrongfully transferred from the plaintiff, for example, through a tortious act.

For instance, if A entrusts his furniture to B while travelling to Europe, and B, without authorization, pledges the furniture to C, who advertises it for sale knowing B lacked the right to do so, C can be compelled to return the furniture to A as it is held in trust by B on behalf of A.

Certain items may hold significant value due to sentimental or cultural associations that cannot be quantified monetarily, such as family heirlooms. It would be unjust if individuals were unable to reclaim such property without subjecting it to the appraisal of those who do not share the same emotional attachment. Proof of entrustment of the property would be essential in such cases [Ganga Bishen v Jai Narain AIR 1986 SC 441].

Difference between Sections 7 and 8 of SRA

The disparity between Sec. 7 and Sec. 8 is evident in several aspects:

  • Defendant Type: Under Sec. 7, a person with a temporary or special right to the possession of specific movable property can sue even the owner of the property, whereas a suit under Sec. 8 is incompetent against the owner.

  • Nature of Relief: Sec. 7 provides general relief for the recovery of movables, while Sec. 8 provides relief in specific cases detailed above.

  • Remedial Options: In a suit under Sec. 7, the plaintiff may seek recovery of special movable property or, alternatively, compensation. Conversely, under Sec. 8, pecuniary compensation is deemed inadequate relief for the loss of the article. Therefore, the relief sought typically includes an injunction restraining the defendant from disposing of the article or causing harm to it, or the return of the article itself.


Regarding the English law concepts

Detinue and Conversion are two distinct forms of action available to plaintiffs under English law when dealing with defendants in possession of the plaintiff's movable property:

  • Detinue: This action is pursued when a person seeks the specific return of goods wrongfully withheld from them, or their value if the return is not feasible.

  • Trover (Conversion): Trover, or conversion, is an action solely for damages and the value of the goods. It alleges that the defendant has unlawfully converted the goods to their own use through wrongful dealings, but the plaintiff cannot reclaim the goods themselves through this action.

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