Nature of a Minor's Consent
Adv. Akansha Vajpayee

Nature of a Minor's Consent

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Nature of a Minor's Consent


A legally enforceable agreement is defined as a contract in Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Any agreement made by a minor is not enforceable since they lack the legal competence to enter into a binding contract. This implies that no contract violation by a minor may subject them to liability.


An agreement made by a minor is deemed void ab intio.


Dharmodas Ghose v. Mohri Bibi

                                                                                                                                                                        The 1903 decision in Mohri Bibi v. Dharmodas Ghose concerned a mortgage between a moneylender and a minor. While still a minor, plaintiff A mortgaged his property to defendant B in order to obtain a loan of Rs. 20,000. Subsequently, it came to light that the loan amount that was actually granted was less than Rs. 20,000. At the time of the transaction, the moneylender's attorney was aware that the plaintiff was a minor.


The plaintiff sued the defendant, claiming that because he was underage when he signed the mortgage, it was null and invalid. The plaintiff asked for the cancellation of the mortgage. Nevertheless, the defendant passed away during the Privy Council appeal, and his executors continued the case. The defendant contended, among other things, that the plaintiff should not receive any relief because he had falsely claimed his age.


According to Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act, the court decided that an agreement cannot be regarded as a contract unless the parties are able to engage into one legally. The Act stipulates that a party must be of legal age and sound mind in order to be competent to enter into a contract.


Impact of a Minor's Consent


An agreement made by a minor is null and invalid. This indicates that an agreement made by a minor is void, and the parties are not obligated to keep their word. 


Any property that is given to the minor under the terms of the contract also needs to be given back to the original owner. In the event that the kid has already benefited from a contract provision, they might have to reimburse the other party for that benefit.


No retaliation against a juvenile


Children are exempt from the estoppel principle. According to this concept, in any litigation or procedure between himself and such person or representative, neither he nor his representatives may contest the reality of anything that he purposefully causes or lets another person to think to be true and to act upon such belief. 


Nevertheless, the question of whether children can be subject to the doctrine of estoppel emerges. The court concluded in Jagar Nath Singh v. Lalta Prasad that an invalid agreement could not be upheld by the doctrine of estoppel.


In Vaikuntarama Pillai v. Authimoolam Chettiar, the Madras High Court upheld the rule that the doctrine of estoppel cannot supersede the clause stating that minors are not legally authorised to enter into contracts and are therefore not liable for any debts. Likewise, the Patna High Court upheld this idea in Gaganand Singh v. Rameshwar Singh.


The Restitution Doctrine


According to the principle of restitution, items or property that a minor obtained by falsely declaring their age may be returned to the juvenile if they are still in their control. The kid cannot be forced to return the items if they have already sold or otherwise turned them into cash. The Leslie (R) Ltd. v. Sheill case developed this idea. 


In accordance with Section 41 of the Specific Relief Act, 1877, a court may award relief and mandate that a minor repay any benefits they may have received if they choose to dissolve a contract. This part, however, only comes into play if the kid has approached the court. 


Sir Shadilal CJ reaffirmed in Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh that this jurisdiction may only be used in cases when the juvenile requests the court's assistance. Section 33 of the Specific Relief Act incorporates the notion of restitution subsequent to the 1963 modification.


No duty resulting from the transaction, either in tort or in contract


When a minor signs a contract, it is null and void right away and leaves the parties with no legal obligations. A minor cannot, therefore, be held accountable for breaking their word or for any tortious actions resulting from the agreement.


The case of Harimohan v. Dulu Miya established that a minor is not subject to tort liability for money borrowed on a bond. The Calcutta High Court went on to say that a minor cannot be held accountable in tort if the tort is closely related to the contract and is a part of the same transaction. 


However, as noted in Burnard v. Haggis, the juvenile may be held accountable for the tort if it has no connection to the contract. In this instance, a kid had contracted to ride a horse but not to use it for jumping. However, the horse suffered damage when the child later gave it to a friend who used it for jumping. Since the tort was not covered by the contract, the juvenile was found accountable for the harm done to the horse.


Essentials and the Minor's Consent


An agreement made by a minor is not voidable if it is for necessities. Products and services that are necessary for the minor's existence and well-being are referred to as necessities. These consist of clothing, food, and housing. Contracts for necessities are regarded as legitimate, and a juvenile who breaches one of these can be prosecuted.


This exception is made since the minor's survival and well-being depend on the necessities. Therefore, making sure the kid receives these products or services is in their best interests. Furthermore, necessities are typically affordable and within the minor's capabilities. It is therefore unlikely that dishonest people will take advantage of the minor.


Contracts for needs entail liability up to the full cost of the products or services the minor receives. The minor is not accountable for any further damages that result from the contract violation. The contract also needs to be fair and reasonable in value. 


This is to stop dishonest people from trying to take advantage of youngsters by using their vulnerability for their own gain. Even in situations when a contract is required, it is crucial to make sure that it is in the minor's best interests.


Guardians' or Parents' Liability


Legally, parents or guardians are in charge of the agreements that minors sign. Consequently, in the event that a juvenile executes a legally binding agreement, their parent or legal guardian may be accountable for any violations of that agreement. This is so because minors' behaviour is the responsibility of their parents or guardians.


However, contracts that are advantageous to the minor and do not conflict with their interests are the only agreements for which parents or guardians may be held liable. This implies that agreements that are against the minor's best interests or that are not in their best interests cannot be held against parents or guardians.




An agreement made by a minor is deemed void ab intio. An agreement made by a minor is not voidable if it is for necessities. 


Products and services that are necessary for the minor's existence and well-being are referred to as necessities. Legal responsibility for agreements made by minors rests with parents or guardians, but this responsibility is only extended to agreements that serve the best interests of the minors and do not conflict with those interests.

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