Can A Minor Be Competent To Contract? | Indian Majority Act, 1875 | The National TV
- by Aditi-Harshraj
- May 06, 2020 13:34
Minor is the person who hasn't attended the age of majority. Sec 3 of the Indian Majority Act, 1875 states that the Citizen of India shall be treated as major if he has attained the age of 18 years and not before.
Sec 10 of the Indian Contract Act, 1972 explains that agreement could be enforceable by law if they are made by the free consent, parties should be competent to contract and there should be lawful consideration.
While Sec 11 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 states that the person is competent to contact if he has attained the age of majority, he is of sound mind and isn't disqualified from contracting law.
Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose (1903)
It is the landmark judgment dealing with the ambit of minors agreement. In this case, Privy Council held that if any minor enters into a contract it will be declared as void ab initio i.e void from the beginning. The backdrop of case Dharmodas Ghose was the minor who had mortgaged his immovable property to Brahmdutt for the loan of Rs 20,000. But he was given Rs 8,000 as an advance. The mother of Dharmodas gave a notice to Kedarnath (agent of Brahmdutt) that Dharmodas Ghose is a minor and not competent to contract. Later on, she filed the case on behalf of Dharmodas. It was argued on behalf of Brahmdutt that the contract is voidable. Therefore, 64 and 65 of the Indian Contract Act, Sec 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, Sec 41 of the Specific Relief Act.
Sec 64 of the Indian Contract Act states that the person should restore the benefits he had received from the contract which is no more valid due to him.
Sec 65 of Indian Contract Act states that if any contact is declared void then the party having benefit from the contract has to restore it or pay compensation for it to the person from whom he received it.
Sec 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, explains the principle of estoppel means if a person intentionally makes the other person believe in the fact which isn't true then he will be held liable for such an act.
On behalf of Dharmodas Goose, it was argued to declare the contract void as a minor is not competent to contract. The lower court and Calcutta High Court gave its verdict in favor of Dharmodas Ghose. But during the proceedings of the case, Brahmdutt died. So her wife, Mohori Bibee filed the case in Supreme Court ( Privy Council).
It was held that the contract with minors is void ab initio. The principle of estoppel is not applicable to minors.
Khangul v. Lakha Singh (1928)
In this case, the minor made an agreement for selling his land. But he took the payment from the party and didn't provide him the land. It was argued on behalf of the minor that he is not liable to perform the contract as he is not competent enough to enter into the contract.
But it held that the minor is liable and he has to restore the benefits which he had enjoyed due to the contract.
After this judgment, there was an issue whether the minor shall restore the benefits or not.
As a result of which the Specific Relief Act was amended. Sec 33 of the Specific Relief Act states that on cancellation of the instrument, the court may order the party to restore the benefits he received from the other party and to make compensation to him if required.
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