This article is written by Purva Tambe currently pursuing BA. LLB from IILS Law College (Pune).
Who is considered as a minor?
A person is who is legally underage, who has not yet attained the age of majority, or who has been denied the ability to fully or freely contact. The term minor has been explained in Section 3, The Indian Majority Act, 1875.
Section 3 in The Indian Majority Act, 1875 says that;
Age of majority of persons domiciled in India.-
Every person domiciled in India shall attain the age of majority on his completing the age of eighteen years and not before.
In computing the age of any person, the day on which he was born is to be included as a whole day and he shall be deemed to have attained majority at the beginning of the eighteenth anniversary of that day.
Minor’s agreements: Void
Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, states that a minor is unfit to enter into a contract and that a contract with, or by a minor is invalid and untenable. In several legal rulings, this reality is acknowledged. Let's take the case of A vs. B is a prime example of the situation. In this scenario, A is a minor who mortgaged his house in favour of a moneylender to secure Rs.50,000 loan and the mortgagee got Rs.10,000. In the event of default, the mortgagee filed a claim for the recovery of his mortgage money and the disposal of properties. The privy council declared the agreement with the minor was void as against him and therefore mortgagee(A) could not recover the mortgage money.
Contracts for Necessities
Adhering to Section 68 of the Indian Contract Act, every person shall be entitled to reimbursement by the property of the minor for the necessities supplied to him or his family. Goods and services also consist of necessities. Thus, it is possible to impose a minor's agreement amounting to payment for necessaries.
If a minor by concealment of his age had obtained payment falsely, then he could be forced to recover the payment. He can not, however, be responsible for an equivalent amount, if any, since that would amount to the enforcement of a void contract.
Claim for necessaries supplied to a person incapable of contracting, or on his account:
If a person, incapable of entering into a contract, or anyone whom he is legally bound to support, is supplied by another person with necessaries suited to his condition in life, the person who has furnished such supplies is entitled to be reimbursed from the property of such incapable person.
Contracts beneficial to a minor
If a contract is beneficial to a minor, it may be imposed for a minor. For example, being a payee or a promisee in a contract is no constraint on a minor from being a beneficiary. A minor is therefore capable of purchasing immovable property and can sue upon tender of the purchased amount to recover the possession of the property. Likewise, it can be applied by a minor in whose favor a promissory note has been executed.
Restitution from a minor
Restitution in the usual sense means restoring the advantage a person has gained and its primary aim is, firstly, to restore the victim's position. i.e. 'Plaintiff' in the case of a contract, to the original position he enjoyed before entering into that contract, and secondly, to prevent the defendant from having unjust benefits that he is not entitled to, i.e. to prevent the undue advantage to the defendant.
If a minor has earned a gain under a void contract, the same can not be demanded to be refunded. However, if by fraudulently misrepresenting his age, a minor obtain any property, the court may order the minor to return the property to the other party as long as it is traceable in his hands. This theory of restitution is equitable.
If the minor has sold or converted the goods, the value of the goods will not be returned since it would amount to the execution of a void arrangement. Also, this doctrine does not apply when the minor received some cash instead of goods.
Principle of estoppel
Estoppel is a rule of proof, which, after inducing the other party to act on that promise, prevents a party from going back on its promise. The Estoppel law does not extend to the contract of a minor. A minor's contract is invalid and should thus not be excluded from pleading that such a contract is invalid on the grounds of his minority.
In the case of Debi Das v. Tulshi ram and others