With the way of mechanical headway, individuals are acquiring wide-scope of data indeed, even before the time of greater part. Minority in India is a reality yet no advantage like different nations. The Indian Contract Act says that minors are not competent to hold or perform any type of agreement. The arrangement made by the competent parties is perceived by law. An individual who isn’t competent can’t agree to the minors for which there are conditions given in Section 11 in the Indian Contract Act that who is competent to agree. Minor’s concurrence with a few special cases stands out to be void and subsequently, he is released from every one of the legally binding conditions.
As per Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, only those people who are competent to make contracts who are of the age of majority, sound mind and are not disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subject. The age of a major according to Indian laws is 18. Anyone who is of age less than 18 will be called as a ‘Minor’ and cannot make a contract with any person. The person will be held minor even when he is just one day far to attain the age of 18.
Agreement by a minor and its nature:
According to the Indian Contract Act, 1872 there are certain conditions which are laid down in Section 1only after which an agreement can be made into a contract which is as follows:
- Free consent
- Competency to make a contract
- Lawful consideration
- Lawful object
- Not expressly declared to be void
So, age plays an important role in the formation of a contract, and in the eyes of Indian Law, the minor being incompetent to make a contract the agreement will be void ab initio i.e. void from the beginning. It will not be valid and of no value according to the law.
In the landmark case of Mohiri Bibi v. Dharmodas Ghosh [AIR 1903 ILR 30 Cal 539 (Pc)], it was held that a minor’s contract is void ab initio. In the case of Mohini Bibi v. Dharmodas Ghosh, Dharma Das who was a minor took Rs. 20,000 and mortgaged his house in favor of Brahmo Dutt, who was a money lender. He paid the half amount and refused to pay the rest. The mother of the minor was his legal guardian and took an action against the moneylender stating that at the time of making the contract, Dharma Das was a minor and he is not liable to pay the money. The Privy Council passed the final decision saying any sought of a contract with a minor or infant is void from the beginning. The plaintiff, Dharma Das was incompetent to make such a mortgage hence cannot be forced to give back the amount of money being advanced to him, because he was not bound by the promise that was executed in a contract. The court held it void under sections 10 and 11.
Effect of minor’s agreement:
- No estoppel: Estoppel is a legal rule of evidence that prevents a party from alleging something that contradicts what he previously stated. There is no estoppel against a minor. Section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, lay down the law of estoppel. It means if a minor fraudulently enter into a contract claiming himself a major but in reality, he is not, then later on he can plead his minority as a defence and cannot be stopped/prevented from doing so.
- No liability under contract or tort: Anyone being a minor can’t be able to give his/her consent agreeing’s nature to be void and hence not enforceable.
- Restitution: Restitution means restoring to the party the benefit which the other party has received under a decree subsequently held to be wrong. An infant acquires property by misrepresenting his age, he can be constrained to re-establish it, yet just insofar as the same is recognizable in his ownership. Where the minor has sold the products or changed over them, he can’t be made to repay the value of the merchandise, since that would add up to implementing a void contract.
The court in specific cases, when requesting for the cancellation of an instrument, at the case of a minor, requires the minor offended party to make payment to the other party to the instrument. This happens according to Section 33 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, which states:
“The Court may order the party to whom such relief is granted to restore, to the extent practicable, any advantage gained from the party and to make any recompense to him that justice may require” where a minor is a plaintiff.”
There are some exceptions also to the general rule of the agreement by minors which are as follows:
- Insolvency: As the agreement made by the minor is said to be void ab initio. Therefore, the minor can’t be said as an insolvent person. If there is anything due pending from the side of the minor then he isn’t liable to pay those dues.
- The contract made by the guardian of the minor: When a contract is made by the minor through his guardian for his benefit, the minor has the power to sue the other party if the said promise doesn’t get performed by them. Such an agreement, when the guardian enters to help the minor, may likewise be implemented by the minor. In any case, the guardian cannot agree to purchase immovable property.
When there is a joint contract made between a minor and an adult which is carried out by the guardian of the minor then the responsibility and work of that contract go on the adult.
- Liability for necessaries: According to section 68, the necessaries supplied to the minor “should be suited to the condition in life. Necessaries are the things that are critical for us. Food, clothes and shelter, etc. are a portion of the fundamental necessities for the people. Minor’s financial status is considered in deciding their necessaries. Minors are entirely liable to every one of the necessaries given to him/them. There are two conditions which are needed to be followed during the liability for necessaries:
- The supply shall not be in amount excess than the required amount.
- The supplies must be according to the standard of a minor.
In Kunwarlal vs. Surajmal(AIR 1963 MP 58)the plaintiff Kunwarlal gave the house on rent to a minor. Later, filed a suit against the minor and his father for the recovery of the rent. Under section 68, it can’t be denied that the house given to the minor to live and continue his studies was for a necessity, suited to the conditions of the minor’s life and the Court allowed the recovery of the rent for the house.
- Contract of apprenticeship: According to the Indian Apprenticeship Act, the contract of apprentice made by the guardian of the minor on his behalf is bindable to the minor.
Ratification by Minor:
An act was done by the person on behalf of the other but without taking his/her authority is known as ratification. A Minor after attaining the age of majority cannot ratify an agreement made by him when he was a minor.
In the case of Suraj Narayan Dube v. Sukhu Aheer(AIR 1928 All 40) a minor took an amount by carrying out a promissory note and after attaining the age of majority, he made a fresh promise to pay that sum and interest thereon. But the court held that the agreement firstly entered into by the parties is void and he has no liability to pay under this agreement. But the minor made a promise and provided the promissory note, amounting to consideration. A minor has no power to ratify the contracts entered into by him upon attaining the age of majority. The second agreement stands void due to want of consideration.
Can a minor be:
- An agent?
Ans. Yes, a minor can be an agent of a principal but he will not liable and the principal has to get bounded by the acts done of the minor.
- A Principal?
Ans. No, a minor can’t be a principal due to his incompetency of less age.
- A Partner?
Ans. Yes, he can take the benefit as a partner only when the minor is admitted as a partner with the due consent of all other partners. But he will not liable for any of his acts done.
So in conclusion we can say that as per law, an agreement made with a minor is void and only a man who is 18 years old and above is competent to contract. Any contract with a minor cannot claim a specific function or performance of an act, by the minor, as any agreement with minors is considered void ab initio. The current laws concerning the minors’ agreement are in various regards confounded and opposing. A large part of the trouble of the customary laws has emerged from the reluctant of adults to manage with minors due to fear of financial loss. The law should be sufficiently adaptable to bind the minor to his legally binding duties. Age of majority should be uniform in India as different legislations explains different age of minor and different age limits. The age to be a major shall not be founded on age rather it should be founded on the capacity of a minor who could know what the individual is doing at the hour of settling on an understanding.