The Indian Contract Act, 1872 says that the parties must be competent to contract for a valid contract. Further it says that Every person is competent to contract who is of the age of majority according to the law. However, these terms are not clear whether it amount to void contract or voidable contract.
Therefore, to avoid such confusion following are some important judgments to understand the nature of contract with minor.
- Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghosh, Privy Council 30M.I.A.114
In the present case, Dharmodas Ghosh, (a minor) mortgaged his property to the defendant who was a moneylender. At that time, the defendant’s attorney had knowledge about the plaintiff’s age. The plaintiff paid only Rs.8000 and refused to pay the remaining amount. The mother of the plaintiff was his next friend or legal guardian at that time. He initiated an action against the defendant stating that at the time when the contract was made, he was a minor. Therefore, the contract being is a void one and hence he is not bound by the contract.
The Privy Council held that the contract with any minor is void-ab-initio (from the beginning) and Dharmodas Ghose was not held liable for the repayment of the loan because the contract was void-ab-initio.
- Sri Kakulam Subrahmanyam v. Kurra Subba Rao, Privy Council 1948 (50) BOMLR 646
The respondent’s father before the death has incurred few debts, to pay off, the promissory note and mortgage debt of his father, minor with his mother, sold a piece of land to the holders of the promissory note in satisfaction of the debt. He paid off the mortgage and got possession of the land. Later, the minor claimed that because of his minority the contract was void, and he demanded the possession of land. But, the court of Privy Council held that this contract was for the benefit of the minor and was entered into by his guardian i.e. his mother and thus was a valid one.
- Suraj Narain Dube v. Sukhu Aheer and Anr, AIR 1928 All 440
Suraj Narain i.e. the Plaintiff lent Rs.40 bearing interest of 2% p.m. to Defendant Sukhu Aheer who was a minor at the time. Defendant after attaining the age of majority, made a fresh promise to pay that sum and interest thereon, but this contract was not enforceable due to the reason that consideration received during minority is not a good consideration.
Court stated that the previous contract fails under section 11 of the Indian Contract Act “Competency of Contract” as the respondent was a minor so the Contract was void. The previous contract being void the consideration not a good consideration for the contract and the contract was held void.
- Kunwarlal Daryavsingh vs Surajmal Makhanlal and Ors, AIR 1963 MP 58
The Plaintiff (appellant) was an owner of the house and Defendants (respondents) No. 1 and No. 2 are Father and Son. Defendant No. 2 was a minor who took the house on rent and he was not contempt to contract so the below both courts dismissed the suit.
The Plaintiff appealed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court and proved that Defendant No.1 Surajmal made an entry in Bahi-Khata which stated that Defendant No.1 took the house on rent at Rs.15 per month after the 3 months from a minor Defendant No. 2 took the house on rent. The court held that Regarding necessities provided to minors, the house given to a minor on rent for living in it and to continue his studies is part of necessities, and therefore he is entitled to payment of rent from minor’s property.
- Khan Gul vs Lakha Singh
In the present case, the defendant is minor and intentionally misrepresented himself as an adult and agreed with the plaintiff for the sale of his property. The plaintiff paid him a certain sum of money and was ready to pay the balance amount, but the defendant refused to furnish the possession of the property to the plaintiff, which led to this case. The courts concluded that the doctrine of estoppel could not apply to minors as it would cause absurdity and injustice and the minor was compelled to refund the consideration.
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