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Law For Minor Agreement: Time Ripen Change Or Not

The study and the concept of agreements by the minor originated from the concept of competency of contracts that emerged and can be traced back from Section 10
Due to this reason for the better understanding of competency of contract we read Section 11 with Section 10 of Indian Contract Act,1872. The Section 10 states that, What agreements are contacts � All agreements are contracts if they are made by free consent of parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with lawful object, and are not hereby expressly declared to be void.

The competency mentioned in section 10 is discussed in sec 11, and section 11 is written in positive sense but as per the Privy council the sec must be read in negative form, i.e.-
No person is competent to contract who is not of the age of majority according to the law to which he is subject, and who is not of sound mind, and is disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subject.

This concept was suggested by privy council in a historic [1]case. As mentioned above the person who is not of the age of majority i.e. a person who is a minor possess tender mind and lacks understanding for contractual relationships of a contract. Further, they are incompetent to give consent because due to their defective state of mind there can be no consensus ad idem which is a sine qua non for a contract and consent flows from a mature or sound mind which a minor does not possess, therefore as per the statute of law a minor is considered to be disqualified by the law or incompetent to enter into a contract.

In this project we will deal with what are the impacts and implications of minors agreement. law never stay constant, always with the growth of society and as per arising needs law has also evolved. Minors agreement has always been a problematic, the are being discussed from a very long time back and these cases are still being solved, thus with time change in minors agreement is ripening and as per the famous [2][3]english laws and the landmark [4]Indian law cases on minors agreement this concept is continuously growing and evolving.

Age Of Majority : As Per English And Indiian Law

Indian statute:
As per [5]section 3, a minor becomes a major i.e. he attains majority when he becomes 18years old and the day on which person was born is included, but as per the superintendence of court age of majority is attained at 21years of age. The two ages laid down in India leads to confusion and inconvinence[6]

England's law:
In England there are no separate cases or circumstances for a minor to be considered as a major. In England a common law pre vails as per which the age of majority is attained when a person becomes 21 years old.

Initial laws determining majority
Indian contract act came into existence in 1872 so before it the Hindus used to determine there majority as per Hindu law, Muslims as per Muslim law and Englishmen as per English law. thus different laws had different age of majority[7]. Due to this, later a fixed age of majority was defined under an Act[8] of 1875 which gave a uniform rule and helped in fixing the age of majority at 18 for Hindus and Muslims as well as for all the British subjects living in British India. This was a significant step, but the Act did not cover the cases of British subjects living in this country for the time being and having their domicile in countries.

Validity Of Minors Agreement

In England the agreements entered in by the minors are governed and regulated by the famous act[9] of 1874[10]. As per the act, for getting loan or for mortgaging property or for giving or receiving of some goods, until and unless they are necessaries are considered to be absolutely void as per the doctrine of English law.

The above mentioned term absolutely void led to the rise of controversial situation under which some jurist considered that absolutely void means that cont is totally null and is zero in the eyes of law whereas according to some jurist absolutely void refers to the fact that contract is voidable at the option of minor and it depends on the factual situation. There are cases[11] in which the court in terpreted the case in its strict literal sense. Such situations favors the minor to enjoy his position which he obtained under common law[12]

In the famous landmark case: Johnson v/s Pye, the doctrine emerged that if a contract is done with a minor then the minor holds no liability, in this case of England the court held that �
An infant who obtains a loan of money by falsely representing his age cannot be made to repay the amount of the loan in the form of damages to deceit, A minor is in law incapable of giving consent, and there being no consent, there could be no change in the character or status of parties.
  1. No Estopple Against A Minor

    The minor could not even be estopped from taking the defence of infancy when they misrepresent there age while entering into a contract in order to get a loan, for entering into mortgage or for getting any luxurious goods, this is all because the doctrine of estopple doesn't functions against a minor the same happened in various cases and the court reasoned that where an infant represents fraudulently or otherwise that he is of age and thereby induces another to enter into a contract with him then in an action founded on the contract the infant is not estopped from taking the defence of being a minor.

    This was held in a very famous case of Gadigeppabhimappa Meti v. Balangowda Bhimangowda, it was held that if an infant fraudulently misrepresents himself as a major, then in an action the minor is not estoppled from setting up infancy.
  2. Doctrine Of Restitution

    Leslie Ltd. V. Sheill[13] a detailed analysis:
    • This case is very famous as it led to the emergence of the Doctrine Of Equitable Restitution.
Facts: Defendant obtained loan from the plaintiff by fraudulently misrepresenting that he was of full age at the time of contract. the minor spent all the money and did not paid any amount back. Defendant sued him for the recovery of money.

  • Whether the defendant are entitled to equitable restitution against loan given to minor?
  • Whether they could claim restitution either for action under tort arising out of contract or of Quasi �contractual claims?

Decision Of The Court:

If an infant obtained property or goods by misrepresenting his age, he can be compelled to restore it so long as the same is traceable in his possession. This is known as doctrine of [14]Equitable Restitution
  • In the present case, since the money was spent by the defendant, there was neither any possibility of tracing it nor of restoring it.
  • If the court asks for repaying any equivalent sum, it would amount to enforcing a void contract, hence no action either on torts or on Quasi- contractual claims exists.

Hence no action rests against defendant.
If a property is obtained by an infant where he Misrepresents age that is he is a minor but he misrepresenting himself as a major, he can be compelled to restore it but the Restoration process can be done as long as the position of the good which has been obtained by the minor by a misrepresentation is traceable this is known as the doctrine of restitution.

The situation in which the infant has sold the good which he obtained by misrepresenting his age or misrepresenting himself as a minor or he converted that good or commodity then he cannot be made to repay that good or repair the value of that good because this will amount to enforcing a contract which was never valid that is it will amount to enforcing a void contract.

Mohiri Bibi V.Dharmodas Ghose[15]
In this case there is a minor and a money lender. The minor mortgaged his house to the money lender to get a loan of rupees 20000. During the mortgage the money lender was aware that the person to whom he is giving the loan was a minor. An out of this entire loan a part of the money minor already got in advance. Late plaintiff was a minor and the minor claimed that the mortgage executed should be cancelled as he was an infant.

The money lender firstly used section 64 for the restitution of the amount which he gave to the minor, but the privy council held that section 64 can only be applied to voidable contract and the agreement with the minor was void. Similarly no relief was given under section 65 because it even applies to the contract, whereas with the minor contract is not possible.

Now finally money lender claim for restitution of his money under section 41[16] of special relief act 1877, but the lordship refuse situation because when making agreement the lender was aware about the fact that the person is a minor So no restitution exists because there was full knowledge.

Khan Gul V Lakha Singh[17]
In this case the minor fraudulent reconsidered his age and contracted for the sale of a plot to the plaintiff. The minor receive the consideration but refused to perform his part. It was held that contract is Hollywood because there is no question of specific enforcement.

Concept Of Beneficial Contracts And Liability Of Necessities

Beneficial contract
Although in the Mori which case it was declared that any agreement done by a minor is absolutely void as per the privy council but it was even helped by the privy council that a minor is allowed to enforce a contract which is of some benefit to him and if any such contract is enforced by a minor then he is required to 12 no obligation. This concept was very well discuss in the case of Raghvachoria Vs Srinivasan. This case is related to the Madras high court as it was discussed in Madras high court where it was held that if a mortgage is executed in favour of a minor who has advanced the whole of a mortgage money then search mortgage is enforceable by him why some person on his behalf.

Liability for necessity
Section 68[18] of the Indian contract act deals with the supply of necessaries to an incompetent person in the contract.
Sec 68 - claim for necessaries supplied to a person incapable of contracting or on his account - If a person, incapable of entering into a contract, or anyone whom he is legally bound to support, is supplied by another person with necessaries as suited to his condition in life, the person who has furnished such supplies is entitled to be reimbursed from the property of such incapable person.

The concept of liability of necessities was very well discussed in the case of [19]Nash Vs Imam
There are two different aspects when it comes to the liability of a minor in case of supply of necessities and whether reliability could be drawn on minors estate or not. one of the theories out of the two says that liability does not depend on the consent of the minor rather it exists because necessary is are supplied to him which are the basic requirements for the minor and thus it is a quasi contract in nature. The second view is that an infant is totally or absolutely not destitute of contractual capacity and according to the law of England a minor is allowed to make a contract done for necessities and it is permitted in English law.

It can be concluded that minors agreement has gone through a time ripen change, as there has been changes in the interpretation to the concept of minors agreement, development of doctrine of equitable restitution, non application estoppel which have taken place over the time.

The position of minors agreement has changed from time to time the reason being that in initial English clause it was very different what it is in the English laws currently and how it has impacted the formation of Indian law on the concept of minors agreement. In Indian contract act we have seen the minors agreement in terms of competency to contract section 10 which is very well discussed deeply in the section 11 of Indian contract act.

There have been a number of changes even in the Indian contract act dealing with the minors agreement since 1872 changes are still continuing this very well proves that it has gone through a number of time ripen changes and these changes are still taking place. The Indian judiciary was left with the question of unsatisfactory verdicts of the past so Indian judiciary went through the process of better and better interpretation of this act in order to meet the requirements of a growing nation so as to establish a welfare state.

From into time judicial interpretations were necessary to fill the gap which was formed between the old interpretations and the new requirement of law of statutes in order to ensure the practicality of this concept so that it may stay from all the point of use including social, cultural, commercial, economic, political, psychological, scientific etc. along with the judicial interpretations some flaws in this law of minors agreement have been seen from time to time one of these criticism is that instead of two separate pages for majority which is 18 years and 21 years they should be one common age of majority. hello this criticism there are various other criticism from time to time by different judicial bodies.

Despite all these challenges the law on minors agreement has gone through the changes and is fulfilling the purpose of delivering justice and will keep on growing along with the growth of the society.

  • Textbook on Law of Contract and Specific Relief by Avtar Singh
  • Law of Contract in India (Vol. 2) by V.G. Ramachandran
  • The Indian Contract Act-1872, By Pollock
  • Mulla's Indian Contract Act, By Mulla (Revised Anirudh Wadhwa)
  • The Indian Contract Act, 1872 Bare Act By Universal

  1. MohoriBibi v. Dharmodas Ghose, (1903) 30 I.A. 114
  2. Leslie ltd. V sheill
  3. Johnson v pye
  4. Rajrani vs Prem Adib
  5. Indian Majority Act 1875
  6. This section provides :
    Subject as aforesaid ; every minor of whose person or property, or both, a guardian, other than a guardian for a suit within the meaning of Chapter XXXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, has been or shall be appointed or declared by any Court of Justice before the minor has attained the age of eighteen years, and every minor of whose property the superintendence has been or shall, be assumed by any Court of Wards before the minor has attained that age shall, notwithstanding anything con- tained in the Indian Succession Act or in any other enactment, be deemed to have attained his majority when he shall have completed his age of twenty one years and not before.
  7. In Hindu and Muslim laws there were conflicting rules relating to the age of majority. It was 21 years for the European British subjects and 25 years for the Britishers not domiciled in India
  8. THE INDIAN MAJORITY ACT (9) of 1875
  10. Id, Act (37 and 38 Vict. C. 62) of 1874
  11. Reg. v. Wilson, (1879) 5 Q.B.D. 28; Coutts & Co. v. Browne-Lecky, (1947) K.B. 104
  12. Anson, supra note 14 at 176
  13. Case (1914) 3K.B. 607:83 L.J. K.B.
  14. N.V. Ramanaiah And ors. Vs State of Andhra Pradesh And Ors. On 1 January, 1800 ; R.K. Garg Etc. Etc vs Union Of India & Ors. Etc on 20 October, 1981 ; S. Chokalingam Asari vs N.S. Krishna Iyer And Ors. on 1 November, 1963 ; Dhan Singh Yadav And Anr. vs Badri Prasad on 29 January, 1963 ; K.M.P.R. Firm vs The Official Assignee Of Madras on 3 March, 1922
  15. A.T. Raghava Chariar vs O.A. Srinivasa Raghava Chariar on 5 April, 1916 ; T.R. Appasami Ayyangar vs Narayanaswami Iyer And Ors. on 28 March, 1930 ; Ajudhia Prasad And Anr. vs Chandan Lal And Anr. on 11 May, 1937 ; Madhab Koeri vs Baikuntha Karmaker And Ors. on 7 July, 1919
  16. T.R. Appasami Ayyangar vs Narayanaswami Iyer And Ors. on 28 March, 1930 ; Vemana Venkama Naidu And Ors. vs Sayed Vilijan Chisty And Ors. on 4 August, 1950 ; Ajudhia Prasad And Anr. vs Chandan Lal And Anr. on 11 May, 1937
  17. The Jumma Masjid, Mercara vs Kodimaniandra Deviah on 11 January, 1962 ; T.R. Appaswami Aiyangar vs Narayanaswami Aiyar And Ors. on 28 March, 1930
  18. Abn Amro Bank Nv vs Joint Commissioner Of Income Tax on 17 June, 2005 ; M/S. Fortune Five Hydel Projects. .. vs Karnataka Electricity ; Yashodhara Shroff vs Union Of India on 12 June, 2019
  19. Ardeshir H. Bhiwandiwala vs The State Of Bombay on 27 January, 1961

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