Tag Archives: Equitable Relief

Constructive Trust

A constructive trust arises by operation of law, without regard to the intention of the parties to create a trust. It does not require a deed signifying the institution of trust. Under a constructive trust, the trust arises by operation of law as from the date of the circumstances which give rise to it. The function of the court is only to declare that such a trust has arisen in the past.

Constructive trust can arise over a wide range of situations. To quote Cardozo, J., “a constructive trust is a formula through which the conscience of equity finds expression”.

Story on Equity Jurisprudence has explained “Constructive Trust” as: “One of the most common cases in which a Court of equity acts upon the ground of implied trusts in invitum, is where a party has received money which he cannot conscientiously withhold from another party. It has been well remarked, that the receiving of money which consistently with conscience cannot be retained is, in equity, sufficient to raise a trust in favour of the party for whom or on whose account it was received. This is the governing principle in all such cases. And therefore, whenever any controversy arises, the true question is, not whether money has been received by a party of which he could not have compelled the payment, but whether he can now, with a safe conscience, ex aequo et bono, retain it. Illustrations of this doctrine are familiar in cases of money paid by accident, or mistake, or fraud. And the difference between the payment of money under a mistake of fact, and a payment under a mistake of law, in its operation upon the conscience of the party, presents the equitable qualifications of the doctrine in a striking manner. It is true that Courts of Law now entertain jurisdiction in many cases of this sort where formerly the remedy was solely in Equity; as for example, in an action of assumption for money had and received, where the money cannot conscientiously be withheld by the party; following out the rule of the Civil Law; Quod condition in debiti non datur uitra, quam locupletior factus est, qui accepit. But this does not oust the general jurisdiction of Courts of Equity over the subject-matter, which had for many ages before been in full exercise, although it renders a resort to them for relief less common, as well as less necessary, than it formerly was. Still, however, there are many cases of this sort where it is indispensable to resort to Courts of Equity for adequate relief and especially where the transactions are complicated, and a discovery from the defendant is requisite.” Janardan Dagdu Khomane v. Eknath Bhiku Yadav, (2019) 10 SCC 395.

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Interim Mandatory Injunction

In Dorab Cawasji Warden v. Coomi Sorab Warden, (1990) 2 SCC 117, it was held as under:

        “The relief of interlocutory mandatory injunctions are thus granted generally to preserve or restore the status quo of the last non-contested status which preceded the pending controversy until the final hearing when full relief may be granted or to compel the undoing of those acts that have been illegally done or to the restoration of that which was wrongfully taken from the party complaining. But since the granting of such an injunction to a party who fails or would fail to establish his right at the trial may cause great injustice or irreparable harm to the party against whom it was granted or alternatively not granting of it to a party who succeeds or would succeed may equally cause great injustice or irreparable harm, courts have evolved certain guidelines. These guidelines are:

  • The plaintiff has a strong case for trial. That is, it shall be of a higher standard than a prima facie case that is normally required for a prohibitory injunction.
  • It is necessary to prevent irreparable or serious injury which normally cannot be compensated in terms of money.
  • The balance of convenience is in favour of the one seeking such relief.

Being essentially an equitable relief the grant or refusal of an interlocutory mandatory injunction shall ultimately rest in the sound judicial discretion of the court to be exercised in the light of the facts and circumstances in each case. Though the above guidelines are neither exhaustive nor complete or absolute rules, and there may be exceptional circumstances needing action, applying them as prerequisite for the grant or refusal of such injunctions would be a sound exercise of a judicial discretion.”

It is well established that an interim mandatory injunction is not a remedy that is easily granted. It is an order that is passed only in circumstances which are clear and the prima facie material clearly justify a finding that the status quo has been altered by one of the parties to the litigation and the interests of justice demanded that the status quo ante be restored by way of an interim mandatory injunction. Samir Narain Bhojwani v. Aurora Properties and Investments, (2018) 17 SCC 203.

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