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By Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi, LLB, PhD.

COVID-19 has brought many questions on Force Majeure. Genuine cases where the performance is not possible because huge migration of construction labour in the country does exist. The government lifted Lockdown rules on 8th April 2020  and issued a SOP for construction workers. Their accommodation and food, social distancing etc. L&T one of the biggest construction companies, declared that their sites are operational upto 90% in the country in the month of May 2020 itself. Many big construction sites restarted immediately. MAHA RERA asked all its registered ongoing projects to appraise it by putting information on construction labour, status and difficulties in starting projects.
One thing is certain, there is a thin line to decide Force Majeure in contracts. Even the Supreme Court has given a definition for the Force Majeure. Lease have also become major talk of the town for the subject. the two landmark judgements of the Supreme Court [(a) Raja Dhruv Dev Chand v. Raja Harmohinder (AIR1968 SC 1024) and (b) Sushila Devi v. Hari Singh (1971) 2 SCC 288] have left no cope for doubts or debate. A joint reading of the two bears out that Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 does not apply to leases as it is a completed conveyance, different from an executory contract and events which discharge a contract do not invalidate a completed transfer or lease.
In time to come, litigations in Real Estate are going to increase in leaps and bounds because of lesser understanding of the concept of Force Majeure. Builders are well equipped with the knowledge on the subject and it will be difficult for the buyers to prove the bonafied of the cases.

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