‘Discretion’ Has No Place In Contractual Matters Unless It Is Expressely Incorporated In Contract
Case: State of Madhya Pradesh vs SEW Construction Limited
Coram: Justices AS Bopanna and PS Narasimha
Case No.: CA 8571/2022
Court Observation: “The rights and duties of the parties to the contract subsist or perish in terms of the contract itself. Even if a party to the contract is a governmental authority, there is no place for discretion vested in the officers administering the contract.”
A contractual clause which provides for the finality of rates quoted by the Contractor and disallows any future claims for escalation is conclusive and binding on the parties. If the clause debarring future claims permits escalation subject to certain conditions, no claim is admissible if the conditions are not satisfied. However, if the conditions are satisfied, the Contractor will have a right to claim escalation. This is a contractual right. The right originates and subsists by virtue of the contract itself. It is the duty of the Court, while interpreting the contract to decipher the true and correct meaning the parties intended and enforce the rights arising out of the contract. Officers administering the contract will not have any discretion whatsoever to admit or deny escalation after the conditions specified in a contract are satisfied. The rights and duties of the parties to the contract subsist or perish in terms of the contract itself. Even if a party to the contract is a governmental authority, there is no place for discretion vested in the officers administering the contract. Discretion, a principle within the province of administrative law, has no place in contractual matters unless, of course, the parties have expressly incorporated it as a part of the contract. It is the bounden duty of the court while interpreting the terms of the contracts, to reject the exercise of any such discretion that is entirely outside the realm of the contract.