MINOR’S CONTRACT; PART-3

EFFECTS OF A MINOR’S AGREEMENT

A minor’s agreement is void ab initio, i.e, invalid from the start. If the agreement is void, then it is obvious that there is no contract, therefore there is not contractual responsibility on either side.

Ø  NO ESTOPPEL IN CASE OF MINOR

Assume a girl named G, aged 16, aspiring to become a professional photographer, for this purpose she asks her father to buy a camera for her, but unfortunately, even after repeatedly insisting him, she gets the answer in negative. Tired from all this, she collects all her savings (around ₹5k), goes to the nearest camera showroom and buys a camera worth ₹30K on down payment of ₹5k, promising to pay ₹5k every month. While filling the form, she misrepresented her age, and wrote 19 years in the age column. On returning home, she hides the camera in her room. After paying instalment for another 2 months, she runs out of money, and denies of paying any further. The showroom owner files a case against her, where G takes the defence of minority. The state cannot stop her from setting up the defence of minority because of a simple reason, there can be no estoppel against a statute. The laws are made to ensure safety of minors so accordingly estoppel cannot be used against her in this case, otherwise it will defeat the purpose of the policy. It is possible that the court orders G to restore the camera to the showroom and the showroom to redirected her money back to her. Therefore, it can be concluded that a minor cannot be estopped from taking minority as a defence, whether the wrong committed was fraudulent or by mistake.

Some similar cases-

  1. Ajudhia Prasad And Anr vs Chandan Lal and Anr. (11th May, 1937)2
  2. N. B. Sitarama Rao vs Venkatarama Reddiar and Ors. (8th Sep, 1955)3

2 Ajudhia Prasad and Anr. Vs Chandan Lal and Anr., AIR 1937 ALL 610, (A LL HC, 1937)

3 N. B. Sitarama Rao vs Venkatarama Reddiar and Ors., AIR 1956 MAD 261, (MAD HC, 1956)

Ø  NOT LIABLE IN TORT OR IN CONTRACT ARISING OUT OF CONTRACT

We all know that a minor’s agreement is lacking of each and every legal effect, because a minor is not capable of providing consent, as a result of which there couldn’t be any contract. A minor who obtains a particular amount of money by misrepresenting his/her age cannot be forced to repay the amount, indicating that a minor cannot be held liable in these types of cases. It is to be noted that a case of contract cannot be converted into the form of tort, thereby absolving the minors from being sued. The above principle is mainly based in England but it is also taken into consideration in Indian courts too.

But the Indian courts pointed out that if a tort is free from any form of contract, it will then not allow the minor to take the defence of minority. For example, A, a minor, borrows G’s camera for clicking some photos, and after doing that, A lends the camera to his good friend B, who, by faulty handling, drops the camera which caused unrepairable damage. Here A will be held liable.

Let’s understand this by another example. Suppose Gajendra, a horse breeder lends his horse to Harsh, a minor, for riding. Harsh after riding the horse, thought of doing something thrilling, so he starts kicking the horse in the belly so that the horse rears up (stands on hind legs), but because of his careless behaviour (and bad luck), he kicked the horse’s vulnerable veins with ferocious force, resulting in its death. Here Harsh will be held liable because he took the horse only for riding and because of his rough handling, the horse died. In both of the above cases, we can see how some tort cases are independent of contract.

Ø  DOCTRINE OF RESTITUTION

According to this principle, a minor can be impelled to return something or some object, which he/she has acquired by misrepresenting his/her age, as long as the object is traceable, even so he/she cannot be compelled to pay back the money acquired by them, whether taken as loan or something else. To understand this concept better, let’s taken into account the following illustrations-

  • GJ, a boy aged 17 years and 6 months, misrepresented himself as a major to a money lender and obtained a sum of ₹15k on loan, promising the lender to repay the amount in 6 months duration, with an interest rate of 7% per month. GJ used ₹10k in organising a party for his friends, and the remaining ₹5k was spent in eating snacks and having cold drinks in due course of time. As the time passed, GJ started receiving summons from the money lender, but GJ paid no heed to his summons. After waiting for 2 more months, the money lender lost control over himself and somehow got hold of GJ. GJ now takes the plea of being minor at the time of making the contract. To avoid any fuss and confusion, they approach the court, which pronounced that GJ was not liable to pay anything, as he was a minor at the time of making the contract, therefore the contract was void ab initio. And in this case, there was no traceable property or object bought by the sum of loan, so the money lender cannot acquire any property or object in either way.

The above illustration shows how a minor can gain something from his or her own wrongdoings, which, is clearly a problem that we deal with. Now let’s take up another example-

  • Nayan, a girl aged 16 is very passionate about bicycle racing. She wants to build a career in this field of sports, but her family doesn’t support her. Whenever she asks her father to buy a sports cycle for her, he simply refuses and tells her to study more and become a doctor. Fed up by all these things, Nayan thoughts of buying a sports cycle on her own. Keeping this in her mind, she visits a money lender and misrepresents her age, compelling him to believe that she is a major, and takes a loan of ₹10k, promising to return the sum in the period of six months, with an interest rate of 5% every month. She used this amount in buying the cycle which costed her around ₹7.5k in cash. With the remaining balance she buys health drinks and protein supplement, which she consumes within 3 months of taking the loan. Slowly the time passed and the money lender begun pestering her to repay the loan. After 3 -4 meetings, Nayan declared that

she is a minor and she is not responsible to repay anything to the money lender. As the matter causes great uproar, the lender was advised to file a case against Nayan. The court decides that Nayan being a minor is not liable to pay anything to the money lender, but on the other hand, she ought to provide him with the sports cycle she bought 6 months ago.

As we can see the matter in both the cases were somewhat similar but the court announced different judgements in both the cases because in the first case the amount spent was not traceable, whereas in the second case the amount directed was traceable (in the form of cycle), so relyingupon these reasons we can conclude how small points make large impacts in this concept.

Some similar cases-

  1. Mohori Bibee vs Dharmodas Ghose (1903)4
  2. Khan Gul vs Lakha Singh (1928)5

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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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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