Coercion in Indian Contract Act, 1872

INTRODUCTION:-
In the Indian Contract act, Section 10 talks about what agreements are contract?. It provides that all agreements are contract if they are made free consent of the parties, competent to contract or a lawful consideration with a lawful object as not here by expressly declare to be void.
Section 13 of the Indian Contract Act says that two or more person set to be consented when they are agreed upon the same thing in the same sense which is called as consensus ad idem .
According to Section 14, Consent is set to be free when it is not caused by :-
1.) Coercion (section 15 of Indian contract Act) ; or
2.) Undue Influence (section 16 of Indian contract Act) ; or
3.) Fraud (section 17 of Indian contract Act) ; or
4.) Misrepresentation (section 18 of Indian contract Act) ; or
5.) Mistake (section 20, 21 and 21 of Indian contract Act).

According to section 15 of the Indian Contract Act , “Coercion is the committing, or threatening to commit, any act forbidden by the Indian Penal Code, or the unlawful detaining, or threatening to detain, any property, to the prejudice of any person whatever, with the intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement”.


Coercion is said to be where the consent of a person has been caused either by:
1.) There must be either commission or threat of commission of any offence mentioned under IPC or,
2.) There may be unlawful detention or threat of detention of any property.
3.) This threat of offence or detention of property could be given to the other contracting party or even a strangers/ third party
4.) Object of threat is to obtain consent of other party to contract.

1.) ACT FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW OR INDIAN PENAL CODE ;
“It says that if any person commit or threatens to commit an act which is violated by the Indian Penal Code with a view to obtaining the consent of the other party to an agreement, the consent in that case is to be considered that consent is obtain by ‘Coercion’. For Example, Ram threatens to shoot Shyam, if he does not let out his house to Ram. Shyam under fear agrees to let his house to Ram. This agreement is brought under by coercion. Shyam consent was not free. Shyam can avid the contract, even after agreeing”.
For Coercion, it is not a necessary concept that the IPC should be applicable on that place where the coercion case has been attempt. The section 15 clear that to constitute a coercion, “It is immaterial whether the IPC is or is not in force in the place where the coercion is employed.”

ANALYSIS OF SECTION 15:-
1.) Coercion may proceed from anybody, not necessary contracting party.
2.) It includes physical compulsion, fear and even danger to goods.
3.) It must be obtained by unlawfully detaining or threatening to detain person or property.
4.) There must be an intention to cause the other enter into an agreement.

EFFECTS OF COERCION:-
1.) It makes the agreement voidable at the option of the party coerced.
2.) Any money received or goods delivered under coercion must have to be repaid or returned.
3.) Coerced person may rescind the contract.
In Ranganayakamma v. Alwar Seti , “The question is arise in front of the high court of Madras was regarding the validity of the adoption of a boy by a widow, aged 13 years. On the death of her husband, the husband dead body was not allowed to be removed from her house for funeral, by the relatives of the adopted boy until she adopted the boy. The court held that adoption was not binding on the widow as her consent had been obtained by coercion.”
In Chikkam Ammiraju v. Chickam seshamma , In this case, the husband by a threat of suicide, induced his wife and son to execute a release deed in favor of his brother in respect of a certain proprieties claimed as their own by the wife and son. The high court of madras held that to commit suicide amounted to coercion within the meaning of section 15 of the Indian Contract Act and therefore release deed was voidable.

2.) UNLAWFUL DETAINING OF PROPERTY:-
According to section 15, “Coercion could also be caused by the unlawful detaining, or threatening to detain, any property, to the prejudice of any person whatever, with the intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement”. For Example, if an outgoing agent refuses to hand over the account books to the new agent until the principal executes release in his favor, it considered as coercion. But if the detention of property is not unlawful, there is no coercion.
Main points related to unlawful detaining of property:-
1.) Forceable dispossession of property under threat is coercion.
2.) Threat to strike is not coercion because strike may be a lawful weapon for collective bargaining but gherao is coercion.
3.) When a contract is made under a statutory compulsion there is no coercion.
4.) Duress (pressure) is not a coercion, it is a part of coercion. It is only regarding for person, not a property.

Difference between duress and coercion:-
1.) Coercion is restricted by Indian penal code but on the other side duress is not restricted by IPC.
2.) Coercion threat may be directed against other party or even against strangers but on the other side duress must be directed against a party to the contract, or his wife, child, parent, or other near relative.
3.) Coercion may be directed against a person or his property but on the other side duress is constituted by acts or threats against the person and not against the property.
4.) Coercion may proceed from a person who is not a party to the contract but on the other side duress should proceed from a party to the contract or by anyone acting with his knowledge and for his advantage.
5.) In coercion, no such requisites are necessary in Indian law but on the other side duress must be such as will cause immediate violence and also unnerve a person of ordinary firmness of mind.

CONCLUSION:-
“In order to create coercion, a person must show that there was a risk that was prohibited by law and that forced him to enter into a contract that he would not otherwise have. The burden of proof lies on the aggrieved party in case of coercion while in undue influence it lies on the other party. If conditions are found, the effect on the contract is usually that the entire contact rescission has the effect of cancelling the agreement in its entirety”.

Aishwarya Says:

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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