COERCION UNDER THE INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872

Coercion is not new. This is something which is used by almost everybody so that their work is done in a smooth manner no matter what the other person is going through. The evil-minded persons achieve their intentions through Coercion. Even in 2021, parts of Kerala, Coercion is being used mostly for religious confessions or conversions. It is being used in such a way that the person who is a victim or a person who is supposed to be coerced was oppressed in the name of divinity. Person would be left with no other option but to obtain and profess the religion of the oppressor[1].

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 used by powerful people to make people do things which they wouldn’t agree to do. The contract is voidable at the option of the party whose consent has been obtained by coercion. The burden of proof lies with the party defending the coercion. In Coercion the parties may or may not be related to each other. When the contract is avoided, the benefit received has to be restored or refunded to the injured party. Thus, the injured party has to be put in his original place.

It is immaterial whether the Indian Penal Code (XLV of 1860), is or is not in force in the place where the coercion is employed. There are certain case laws describing this section more efficiently. In the case of Chikkan Ammiraju v. Chiikkan Seshamma, the question before the Madras High Court was that whether threat to commit a suicide will come under coercion. According to Wallis, C.J. and Seshagiri Ayyar, J. threat to commit a suicide comes under the meaning of Coercion, whereas Oilfield, J., dissented he was of the view that threat to commit suicide is an act not forbidden by Indian Penal Code only attempt to commit suicide is punishable under section 309 of Indian Penal Code.

In order to constitute coercion under section 15 of Indian Contract act 1872 it is not necessary that it should be directed towards the contracting party. If the act is within the prejudice of any party contract with an intention to cause that party enter into an agreement, it is enough to come under concept of Coercion[2]. The question whether threat to strike amounts to coercion was raised in the case of Workmen of Appin Tea estate v Industrial Tribunal, where the workers demand of bonus was accepted after they threatened to strike. The second issue which arose was that whether the decision between Union Workers and Indian Tea association could be declared void on the grounds of Coercion. The court held that such threat does not come under threat to commit an offence under IPC nor it is detaining or threatening to detain any property. Hence, it was concluded that Threat to strike is no coercion.


[1] Abhilasha Bhatia -Coercion: Indian Contract Act, 1872, Coercion: Indian Contract Act, 1872 | Legal Readings, visited on 09-08-2021 at 11:58hrs.

[2]  Dheeraj DiwakarCoercion under section 15 of Indian Contract Act, Coercion under section 15 of Indian Contract Act | Law column, visited on 09-08-2021 at 17:28hrs.

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