A minor as laid down in law is a person that is not at the age majority, which is differentiated based upon the circumstances and the law of the land. In India, with accordance to the Hindu Marriage act the age of majority of boys is 21 years and girls is 18 years, Indian Contact Act, governs the age of minority as anyone under the age of 18 years. In certain cases until age of 21 years is attained the person is treated as a minor. With accordance ti Section 11, a minor is not competent to enter a contract, and the contract is void ab intio, such contracts cannot be enforced. In the case of Mohori Bibi v Dhurniodas Ghose, it was held with the accordance of Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, a minor cannot make a contract based upon the regulations based upon in the act. Since a child may have poor judgement due to his own ignorance or lack of maturity or may be influenced by others and might not be able to take best judgments in his interest.
Do Minor Contracts have to be Void ab Initio
In the case of Srikakulam Subramanyam v Kurra Subba Rao, it was held that mother as the primary guardian, can for the benefit of the minor, enter into a contract upon his behalf and the contract will be upheld. Chief Justice Beaumont, stated that if a minor has fraudulently misrepresented his age, and induces the other to enter a contract, th minor is not estopped from infancy. A minor’s contract is devoid from all legality, since he is incapable to give consent. Even if tort is directly connected to a contract, even then as held by the Calcutta High Court the minor is not liable.
An exception to section, is based upon necessity, a minor is allowed to enter a contract if it is understood that it id taken in his welfare, an instance can be in the case of Raj Rani v Prem Adib, where the minor has given consideration under a contract the defendant was liable to perform hs obligations, to be compelled to safeguard the minor’s welfare.
In the cases of contracts for marriage of a minor, the prima facie is taken as the benefit for them, In the case of Tulshiram v Roopchand, if the minor upon the date of her marriage is of the majority age, ten the marriage contract is enforceable in the eye of law.
While in the case of marriage to a muslim minor female, as pointed in the case of Kumari Sahnoor Md Tahssen v State of UP, the female had not attained the age of majority and could hence be given in marriage only by the father or guardian, as followed under the Shariat Law, if the Kazi even after having the knowledge of facts validates such a contract, the marriage contract is not valid.
If an infant is said to be providing for himself, as an instance in the case of Cowern v Nield, where the minor was a hay merchant, the court held that, the benefits of the infant have to be upheld, in cases where trade contracts are concerned since the minor is a primary party in it.
A minor is under the law given an opportunity to retire from a contract incase he upon reaching the age of maturity, provided with reasonable exercise in reasonable time, does not deem fit that the contract is granted in his favour. In case of John Edwards and Henry Isaacs v Robert Brudnell Carter it was held by the council that repudiation coming after the term of five years of attaining maturity is not a reasonable time, and hence the now major minor cannot retire from the contract he was previously obliged under.
The law is developed to safeguard the welfare of minors and their position while forming agreements to enter into a contract, hence it is important to shield these welfare rights, where possible disadvantages can be faced by them due to the trajectory of their age. Cases where the minors welfare is being disrupted, the contact is considered to be void ab initio, to prevent any unwanted hardships upon the minor. However in cases such as Mathai Mathai case, a different approach by the court is taken, looking at the several present legal provisions to benefit the welfare of the child, excluding the contracts that arise out of necessity as benefactors to the minor.