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Case Analysis-Mohori Bibee v/s dharmodas Ghose

Mohori Bibee V/S Dharmodas Ghose - Ilr (1903) 30 Cal 539 (Pc) - Minor's Agreement Landmark Case - Bench of Judges: Lord Mcnaughton, Lord Davey, Lord Lindley, Sir Ford North, Sir Andrew Scoble, Sir Andrew Wilson, JJ.

Mohori Bibee V/S Dharmodas Ghose[1] is a case that covers the ambit of minors agreement. This case basically deals with a minor's contract or a contract with a minor. In India, an agreement or a contract with a minor ( a person who is below the age of 18 yrs. or any person who has not completed 18 yrs. of age legally) is void ab-initio (void from very beginning) such rules and regulations are made because, according to law such people does not comes under the ambit of capacity of contract or agreement of doing so.

According to courts opinion, any person who is below 18 yrs of age or who has not completed the age of 18 yrs. of age i.e. a minor cannot intend to create contract or make major decisions. This case has basically provided us with the knowledge that, since minors are legally incompetent to give their assent so they need to deserve or be provide with the protection in their dealings with the other major persons. After this case , any sought of contact or agreement with the minor was void from beginning. Such contracts are "void ab-initio[2]".

In this case, the Privy Council declared the law that any contact by minor or any minor's agreement is "absolutely void" and it has also been strictly followed and is still growing also.Section 10[3]of Indian Contact Act, 1872 provides for what agreements are contracts? and Section 11[4] provides that a person who are competent to contract.

The facts of this case were as follows:-
v Dharmodas Ghose, was the respondent in this case. He was a minor (i.e. has not completed the 18 years of age) and he was the sole owner of his immovable property. The mother of Dharmodas Ghose was authorized as his legal custodian by Calcutta High Court.

v When he went for the mortgage of his own immovable property which was done in the favor of appellant i.e. Brahmo Dutta, he was a minor and he secured this mortgage deed for Rs. 20,000 at 12% interest rate per year.

v Bhramo Dutta who was a money lender at that time and he secured a loan or amount of Rs. 20,000, and the management of his business was in the control of Kedar Nath, and Kedar Nath acted as the attorney of Brahmo Dutta.

v Dharmodas Ghose's mother sent a notification to Brahmo Dutta informing him about the minority of Dharmodas Ghose on the date on which such mortgage deed was commenced.

v but the proportion or sum of loan that was actually provided was less than Rs. 20,000.

v The negotiator or representative of the defendant, who actually acted instead of on behalf of money lender has given money or sum to the plaintiff, who was a minor and he fully had knowledge about the incompetency of the plaintiff to perform or enter into contract and also that he was incompetent legally to mortgage his property which belonged to him.

v After that, on 10thSept. 1895 Dharmodas Ghose along with his mother brought an legal suit or action against Brahmo Dutta by saying that the mortgage that was executed by Dharmodas was commenced when he was a minor or infant and so such mortgage was void and disproportionate or improper and as a result of which such contract should be revoked or rescinded.

v When this petition or claim was in process, Brahmo Dutta had died and then further the appeal or petition was litigated or indicted by his executor's.

v The plaintiff argued or confronted that in such case no relaxation or any sought of aid should be provided to them because according to him, defendant had deceitfully or dishonestly misinterpreted the fact about his age and because if mortgage is cancelled at the request by defendant i.e. Dharmodas Ghose.

Issues Raised:-
Issues Raised in this case were:-
v Whether the deed was void under section 2, 10[5], 11[6], of Indian Contract Act, 1872 or not?
v Whether the defendant was liable to return the amount of loan which he had received by him under such deed or mortgage or not?
v Whether the mortgage commenced by the defendant was voidable or not?

v According to he verdict of Trial Court, such mortgage deed or contract that was commenced between the plaintiff and the defendant was void as it was accomplished by the person who was an infant at the time of execution of mortgage.
v When Brahmo Dutta was not satisfied with the verdict of Trial Court he filled an appeal in the Calcutta High Court.
v According to the decision of Calcutta High Court, they agreed with the verdict that was given by Trial Court and it dismissed the appeal of Brahmo Dutta.
v Then he later went to Privy Council for the appeal and later the Privy Council also dismissed the appeal of Brahmo Dutta and held that there cannot be any sought of contract between a minor and a major person.
v The final decision that was passed by the Council were :-
1.Any sought of contract with a minor or infant is void/ void ab-initio (void from beginning).
2.Since minor was incompetent to make such mortgage hence the contact such made or commenced shall also be void and id not valid in the eyes of law.
3.The minor i.e. Dahrmodas Gosh cannot be forced to give back the amount of money that was advanced to him, because he was not bound by the promise that was executed in a contract.

Principles of Law:-
The principles of law that were laid down in this case are:-
v Any contract with a minor or an infant is neither valid nor voidable but is void ab-initio(void from beginning)
v Section 64[7]of Indian Contract Act,1872 is only applicable in the case, where the parties entering in contact are competent to make such contract and is not applied to cases where there is no contract made at all.
v The legal acts done by an representative or any knowledge of an agent means that such acts done or having knowledge of anything is of his principal.

Majority Act, 1875:-
Majority Act, 1875 was enforced on 2ndMarch 1857. It is a law that was enacted to introduce various laws relating to the "law of majority". Prior to the enactment of this act, there was no surety or certainty about the age limit of attaining majority. This act has basically fixed the age limit of attaining majority and i.e. 18 years of age. It states that, every single person who is domiciled in India can only achieve the age of majority only after the completion of age of 18 years, and not before that at any cost. There comes an exception in the case were any particular personal law provides the age of attaining majority only and if not provided than, else any person domiciled by India shall only achieve majority after the completion of 18 years of age.

In the case were the guardian or a custodian is appointed by any court of justice for a minor in case of a person or his property or for both before the age of 18 years, then in such a case the age of majority would be after attaining the age of 21 years instead of attaining 18 years of age.

Critical Analysis:-
In the case of Mohori Bibee V/S Dharmodas Ghose, the Privy Council strictly defined that any sought of contract or agreement with a minor[8]or with any infant shall be null and void. All contacts with the minors will be void ab-initio. Majority Act, 1875 outlined the definition of a minor, according to such act, any person who is below the age of 18 years or has not completed the age of 18 years shall not be competent to create or enter into any sought of contact or agreement.

According to me any sought of contract in which a minor is party to contract or whether he/she is involved in it shall be void. This perception is correct because minor or infant comes in the category of such people who cannot give there free consent along with the reason that they are not in a situation where they can think in a manner in which a prudent or an ordinary person could do it. An agreement is a deal where free an equal consent of all parties are given but in case of a minor there consent can be dominated by major ones as a result of which , it leads to the violation of one of the condition to form a contract, i.e. free consent[9](a consent is said to be free when it is not caused by Coercion[10], Undue Influence[11], Fraud[12], Miss representation[13]and Mistake[14]).

The court also through its verdict has propounded that, a contact with an infant shall be declared null and void it means that it is neither valid nor voidable. According to me, minors contract shall be avoided and stopped because it sometimes lead to the harmful social, economic and legal effects on the lives and conditions of the minors. Any such person who commits such offence shall be strictly punished by court of law, either through imprisonment or with a fine or with both according to the ambit of the offence committed by the major person.

In Mohori Bibee V/S Dharmodas Ghose, at the end it can be concluded that any agreement or deed in which minor is party to it or is included in such contact by any way, such deed or agreement shall be declared null and void because such agreement is no agreement in the eyes of law. Any agreement with an infant cannot be administered against them. In cases minors parents or custodians shall not be liable for the dealings done by the minor without their consent or knowledge, and hence they will not be liable to return the amount back taken by the minor out of the moral obligations. But parents and guardians will be liable to repay back the amount when minor or an infant acted with the consent of the his/her parents or his/ her custodians. If any minor has got any profit out of the void contact the he/she cannot be forced to reimburse it back or make compensation for it.

[1]ILR(1903) 30 Cal. 539 (PC)
[2]Void from beginning
[3]All agreements are contact if they are made by the free consent of the parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not hereby expressly declared void by law.
[4]Every person is competent to contract who is the age of majority according to law to which he is subjected, and who is of sound mind and is not disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subjected.
[5]All agreements are contact if they are made by the free consent of the parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not hereby expressly declared void by law.
[6]Every person is competent to contract who is the age of majority according to law to which he is subjected, and who is of sound mind and is not disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subjected.
[7]When a person at whose option a contract is voidable rescinds it, other party thereto need not to perform any promise therein contained in which he is a promisor. The party rescinding a voidable contract if has received any benefit thereunder from the another party to such contract, restore such benefit , to the person from whom it was received.
[8]Any person who is below the age of 18 years or who has not completed 18 years of age.
[9]Section 14 of Indian Contract Act, 1872.
[10]Section 15 of Indian Contract Act, 1872.
[11]Section 16 of Indian Contract Act, 1872.
[12]Section 17 of Indian Contract Act , 1872.
[13]Section 18 of Indian Contract Act, 1872.
[14]Section 20, 21 and 22 of Indian Contract Act, 1872.

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