Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Any person who is 17 years and 364 days old will be viewed as a minor in the eyes of law. The age of majority has been decided by the Indian Majority Act of 1875. As per the Indian Contract Act of 1872.
  • Minors are incompetent to hold any form of contract.
  • The case of Mohori Bibee vs. Dharmodas Ghose, covers the entire scope of minors’ agreements.

INTRODUCTION

A minor is someone who has not reached the legal age of majority. People under the age of 18 are considered minors in India. In the perspective of the law, a person who is 17 years and 364 days old is considered a minor. The Indian Majority Act of 1875 established the age of majority. Minors are ineligible to hold any type of contract, according to the Indian Contract Act of 1872.

Furthermore, any agreement formed by a minor is null and void. Minors, on the other hand, are now as essential as majors.A minor would have to use public transportation, go to malls and movie theatres with friends, order food at restaurants, visit the barber, pay for his or her schooling, and facilitate his or her day-to-day life events.

RELARED PROVISIONS

As a result, under the Indian Contract Act of 1872, there is a need for adjustment or flexibility in a minor's contractual liability. Although the minor's agreement is void/invalid, it is not illegal because no legal agreement exists. 'Agreements made with minors are null and void from the start.' A contract made with a minor is deemed null and invalid.

Any agreement created by a minor is void from the beginning; anyone under the age of 18 is incapable of entering into a contract, hence any agreement formed by a minor is void from the start (from the beginning).

According to Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act, all agreements are not contracts. Only parties who are legally capable of entering into a contract can enter into such arrangements. Furthermore, Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act defines the term "competent," which comprises three requirements:

  • the person must be of legal age, which is 18 years old;
  • the person must be of sound mind;
  • and the person must not be barred from contracting by any legislation to which he is subject.

A minor is someone under the age of eighteen, and every contract requires the majority. The Indian Majority Act of 1875 stipulates that the majority age in India is 18. A minor is a person under the age of eighteen who lives in India. A minor's agreement is void under Indian law, which means it has no legal validity and is void and invalid because neither party to the contract can enforce it. He won't be able to sign the same deal even if he gains the majority.

Mohori Bibee vs. Dharmodas Ghose [(1903) ILR 30 Cal 539 (PC)] is a case that encompasses the complete extent of minors' agreements. This case is mostly about a contract with a minor or a deal with a minor. A contract or agreement with a minor (a person under the age of 18 or who has not legally reached the age of 18) in India is void from the start (void from the beginning). These restrictions and regulations are in place because such people are prohibited by law from contracting or agreeing to do so.

The plaintiff, Dharmodas Ghosh, mortgaged his property to the defendant, a moneylender, when he was a minor, according to the facts of the case. At the time, the defendant's attorney was aware of the plaintiff's age. The plaintiff eventually paid only Rs 8000 but refused to pay the balance. Because the plaintiff's mother was his next friend (legal guardian) at the time, he filed a case against the defendant, claiming that he was not bound by the contract because he was a minor at the time of its formation.

Anyone under the age of 18 or who has not yet reached the age of 18 (i.e., a minor) cannot intend to enter into a contract or make major decisions, according to the courts. Because minors are legally incapable of giving consent, they must be entitled to or given protection in their interactions with other adults, according to this case. Following this incident, any attempt to contact or reach an agreement with the minor was null and void from the start. Contracts like these are "void ab initio."

The law that any minor's contract or agreement is "totally void" was stated by the Privy Council in this case, and it has been scrupulously enforced and is continuously evolving. The Indian Contract Act of 1872 defines what constitutes a contract in Section 10, and Section 11 states who is competent to contract.

The legal concepts that were established in this case are as follows:

  1. Any contract with a minor or a newborn is not only invalid, but also void from the start.
  2. Section 64 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, applies only where the parties to a contract are competent to do so, and does not apply when no contract is formed at all.
  3. Any legal acts or knowledge of an agent's principal by a representation entail that such acts or information are of his principle.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF A CONTRACT WITH A MINOR

No Liability in Contract or Tort arising out of Contract.

A minor is incapable of agreeing, and the nature of a minor's agreement is void and unenforceable, hence there is no liability arising from either tort or contract.

No Estoppel Against the Minor

Estoppel is a legal principle of evidence that forbids a party from making an allegation that contradicts what he previously stated. The court determined that the notion of estoppel does not apply when an individual knows the facts ahead of time, as in this case, when the defendant's attorney knew the plaintiff was a juvenile. As a result, this rule does not apply to you.

Ratification of a Contract

There is no such thing as ratification of a minor's contract. The contract is null and void if the person is a minor at the time of contracting. The minor can no longer fix the contract after he or she becomes a major (the contract, if corrected, will no longer be valid). Furthermore, if the contracting parties exhibit interest, they may enter into a new contract with the condition that the new contract's consideration be fresh, as the previous consideration cannot be used again.

Doctrine of Restitution

If a minor falsely claims to be an adult and enters a contract, he may be obliged to restore the contract's commodities in his possession if they are still in his control (not sold/given to someone else or converted) and there is no consideration (money). Otherwise, enforcing a void contract, such as a minor's agreement, would be illegal.

Other ramifications include the fact that if a minor lie about his age, the child's parents will not be held liable, but they will be liable if the youngster entered the contract with his parents' consent. It will be impossible for a minor to petition for bankruptcy. A minor can't buy, sell, or own stock in a company, but a major who's the guardian may do it on his behalf.

CASE LAWS

  • Srikakulam Subramaniam v. Subba Rao [(1948) 50 BOMLR 646– In order to pay off his father's promissory note and mortgage obligation, the minor sold a piece of land to the promissory note holders in settlement of the debt. He was able to pay off the mortgage and take possession of the property. However, the minor later claimed that the contract was void due to his age, and he requested custody of the land. However, the court decided that this contract was lawful because it was for the benefit of the minor and was entered into by his guardian, his mother.
  • Suraj Narayan v. Sukhu Aheer [AIR 1928 All 440]: In the case at hand, a person borrowed money while he was still a minor, and after reaching a majority, he made a new agreement to return that sum plus interest, but the contract was not enforceable since the consideration obtained while he was still a minor was not a good consideration.
  • Kundan Bidi v. Sree Narayan, [(1906-07) 11 CWN 135]: S got products from K in connection with his business when he was a minor and was owing to him; when he reached majority, he borrowed more money and wrote a bond to pay the total amount to K. S claimed that he was not obliged to pay because they claimed to be in his minority in an action brought by K to recover the aforementioned amount. However, because there was a new consideration, S was found accountable for the entire amount.
  • Kuwarlal v. Surajmal, [AIR 1963 MP 58]: In the case of necessities provided to minors, it was decided that a residence given to a minor on rent for the purpose of living in it and continuing his education is a necessity, and thus he is entitled to rent payment from the minor's property.

CONCLUSION

Finally, under section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, a minor cannot enter into a contract. In the case of Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose, the court ruled that any transaction involving a minor is null and void from the start. This was a crucial decision that defined the minor's agreement. As a result, if a minor enters into a contract, he will not be held liable, will not be required to repay if the contract is breached, and will not be able to retrieve the contract when he becomes an adult.

The status of a minor under the Indian Contract Act, 1872, is that a minor cannot enter into a deal and that such a contract is void from the start. The minor cannot count on ratification of the contract he made during his minority once he reaches majority. The reason for this is that ratification refers to a time when the person was still a minor, so an invalid contract cannot be made valid afterward. If necessary, a new contract with a new consideration might be made after reaching the age of majority. A minor's agreement cannot also be called for specific performance because that would be performing a void agreement. A juvenile, on the other hand, will only be held accountable if he or she is under the age of 18.


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