Substantive laws generally provide remedies for instance; law of contract provides remedy of damages for breach of contract. Although Specific Relief Act is a procedural law, yet it is based on rules of justice, equity and good conscience. Therefore, it provides various kinds of specific relief or equitable remedy against violation of legal rights. Cancellation of instruments is one of these kinds of specific relief or equitable remedy.
2. Relevant Provisions
Section 39 to 41 of the Specific Relief Act, 1877 deal with the cancellation of the contracts.
3. Definition of Cancellation of Instruments
According to Specific Relief Act, if a written document is void or voidable due to some reason and any person, who has reasonable apprehension that this document is against him and can cause serious injury to him especially if such document is left outstanding, this person can sue for cancellation of such document. This is called cancellation of Instruments.
4. Explanation of Cancellation of Instruments
To explanation these are the important points
(i) Nullifying a Document
Cancellation of instruments is about nullifying documents.
(ii) Kinds of Cancellation of Instruments
There are the two kinds
(a) Complete Cancellation of Instruments
Under specific Relief Act, court has discretion to adjudge an instrument, to order it to be delivered up and cancelled. It reveals that complete cancellation of instruments has been provided in law.
(b) Partial Cancellation of Instruments
According to specific Relief Act, court can cancel an instrument in part and can allow performance of its remaining part. It reveals that partial cancellation of instruments has also been provided in law.
(iii) Grounds for Cancellation of Instruments or under what circumstance instruments can be cancelled
Followings are considered grounds for cancellation of instruments or following circumstance under which instruments can be cancelled.
(a) Void or Voidable Instrument
A ground for cancellation of instruments is that a written instrument should be void or voidable against any person.
(b) Causing of Injury
Another ground for cancellation of instruments is that if an instrument is left outstanding, it can cause injury to that person against whom instrument is void or voidable.
(c) Apprehension of serious Injury
Among grounds for cancellation of instruments, a ground is that there should be apprehension of serious injury due to a written instrument.
(iv) What instruments can be cancelled?
Following instruments can be cancelled:
(a) Written Instrument
When an instrument is written and the same is void or voidable against any person and can cause serious injury to such person, this written instrument can be cancelled.
(b) Registered Instrument
A registered instrument can be cancelled. However, it is necessary for court to send a copy of its decree regarding cancellation of registered instrument to that officer, in whose office the instrument has been registered and such officer should note fact of cancellation on that copy of the instrument, which is present in his books.
(c) Unregistered Instrument
An unregistered instrument can also be cancelled. However, it is necessary for court to send a copy of its decree regarding cancellation of unregistered instrument to that officer, in whose office the instruments are registered.
(d) Void Instrument
An instrument, which is void against any person and can cause apprehension of serious injury to the person, can be cancelled.
(e) Voidable Instrument
An instrument, which is voidable against any person and can cause apprehension of serious injury to the person, can be cancelled.
(f) Unconstitutional Instrument
An instrument, which is unconstitutional, can also be cancelled.
(v) What Instruments can be partially cancelled?
When instrument is evidence of different rights or different obligations, court can cancel it in part and can allow performance of its remaining part.
To conclude, it can be stated that cancellation of instruments is a discretionary relief. To avail such kinds of discretionary relief, plaintiff is under burden to prove that some instrument or any part of its is void or voidable against him and can cause serious injury to him.