This maxim is sometimes expressed in another form as “He hath committed inequity, shall not have equity”.
It means if we want equity our case shall not have inequity done by us towards others our claim must be just and fair.
It provides that whenever a party seeks to set the judicial seeks to set the judicial machinery in motion to obtain some equitable remedy, but has violated conscience, good faith or other equitable principle, then the doors of courts of equity will be shut against him.
Thus, this maxim is based on good faith and good conscience, while the court of equity tries to promote and enforce justice, good faith, uprightness and fairness, it nonetheless stringently demands same from the plaintiff.
The following example may be given to illustrate the operation of this maxim in the administration of equitable relief.
Overton v. Banister
In this case, a minor girl fraudulently concealed her age and obtained from her trustees a sum of money to which she was entitled only on coming on age.
Subsequently she instituted a suit against the trustees to compel them to pay over again the money which had been improperly paid by them to her during her minority.
It was held that the girl could not enforce the payment over again for having mis-represented her age.
Application in India
Section 23 of Indian Trusts Act provides that the beneficiary cannot successfully sue the trustee to make good the loss to the trust property due to the breach of trust, if beneficiary has, by fraud, induced the trustee to commit a breach of trust or has concurred in the breach of trust.
- Specific Performance
The equitable relief of Specific performance will not be available if the plaintiff conduct under the contract is unconscientious and unfair.
Section 25 of the Act denies any specific performance of contract for sale or letting of property to the vendor or lessor if he entered into the contract knowing that he had no title to the property.
The court of equity will not grant any injunction to party in continuance of a legal wrong even if defendant is also guilty of legal wrong. Equity will not adjust differences between wrongdoers. Fraud, illegality, invasion of a copy right in works are the instances of immoral or libellous acts for the continuance which the court will not grant injunction.
- This maxim does not apply to every unconscientious or inequitable conduct on the part of the plaintiff. It is confined to the misconduct in regard to the matter in litigation.
- There have been times where the requirement of clean hands has not been insisted upon e.g. in cases where the party has repented after agreeing of having fraudulent intentions but did nothing to fraudulent design.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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