File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Claims For Necessaries Supplied To Person Incapable Of Contracting

In today's society in India, minors are taking part in public life and transactions at a greater pace than before. A minor has to attain education in educational institutes, to travel, buys products by himself, visit cinema halls etc. In all these circumstances minor has to go through the transaction which involves contract. The other party can manipulate minor by cheating him and thereby would easily claim that such contract was non enforceable as it was null and void.

However, certain safeguards are there under Indian Contract Act which specifically provides that minor would be entitled for the benefits and necessaries. In case of necessaries provided by the other person to minor under Section 68[1], Minor's property would be then liable for reimbursement. Such kind of contract is the kind of Quasi Contract which is based upon principle of justice, equity and good conscience. Thus, minor's contract can take various shape depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case which would be dealt under this research submission.

The author in this research paper seeks to address the about the Minor and necessaries provided to him by other person under Section 68 of Indian Contract Act. The Author would focus upon the effect of minor's contract and how Court dealt with the concept of necessaries under various case laws. The author would explain Section 68 in the light of Quasi contract.

One of the essential elements for a valid contract is the competency of the parties. As per Section 11[1] of Indian Contract, the parties must be of sound mind and should attain the age of majority. Minor' contract is void from the very beginning. Minors are kept on special footing in contract laws because they are unable to understand and fulfill their duties. However, if minor goes to the court for rescinding the contract, then the Court may ask such minor to return the benefits and necessaries supplied to him.

These are Quasi Contracts (Section 68[2] of Indian Contract Act) which allows the supplier to receive the necessaries supplied to him. The main aim behind such provision is to restore the position of parties to their original position. These concepts are totally based on the principle of natural justice as it avoids unjust enrichment and also saves the interest of minor. The interest of both minor and the supplier of benefits is balanced by these provisions of law contained in the Indian Contract Act.[3]

Who Is A Minor?

Minor refers to an individual who has not attained the majority age as per the legislation which he/she is subjected to. The age of majority could be different for different scenarios as per the laws. In India, as per the Indian Majority Act of 1875 age of majority could be said to be attained when an individual completes 18 years, except when the court appoints guardian for a minor then the age of majority would be fixed at 21 years. However, the revised Indian majority Act has prescribed that age of majority would be 18 years, irrespective of the appointment of guardian of the minor.

Indian Contract Act does not define the term "minor". However, taking into consideration the language of Section 11 of the Contract Act, it could be construed that a minor is a person who is yet to complete the age of 18 years and the said age is ruled by the Sec. 3[1] of the Indian Majority Act. When a minor is under the supervision of court, then 21 years is the age of majority.

Landmark Cases On Competency Of Minor To Contract:

Mohiri Bibi v. Ghosh Dharmodas[1],

The judgment was passed in 1903 by the Pricy Council which ruled that minor's marriage was void ab-initio and that contract was void from the very beginning.

Fact: Dharmodas Ghosh (a Minor), appellant/plaintiff mortgaged his house to the moneylender, the defendant. At the same time, counsel of defendant knew about the appellant's age. Later on, only Rs. 8000 was paid by the complainant and refused to pay the left-out amount. At that time, the plaintiff's mother was the legal guardian or next friend of the minor. Plaintiff brought an action against defendant alleging that at the time of execution of contract he was minor and therefore the said contract has become void and he will not be bound by the said contract.

Decision: The Privy council held that under Section 11[2] of Indian Contract Act, for an arrangement to constitute a contract, parties must have authority as per the said provision.

The enactments on minor deals with 2 concepts and these are:
  • That the law must protect a minor from his own inexperience and to prevent undue advantage to be taken by the adult or to restrain practice of compelling a minor to enter into a contract.
  • That the enactment does not result into undue suffering to the parents who treat juveniles equally.

Mir Sarwarjan v. Fakhruddin Mahomed Chowdhury[3]:
The ruling made in Mohiri Bibi was reaffirmed in this case. As per the facts of the case, the contract for buying some immovable property was made by the minor's guardian on behalf of minor. Thereafter, minor filed a suit against other party for claiming specific performance to restore the possession. The Privy Council rejected his claim and stated that since minor was incompetent to contract and there was no mutuality, thus it is not possible to bind property of minor by any contract. The minor cannot obtain specific performance of the contract.

Srikakulam Subrahmanyam v. Kurra Suhha Rao[4]:
In order to repay the liability of promissory note and the father's debt which arose out of mortgage debt, son-in-law and his mother sold a land to the promissory note holder and thereafter minor reclaimed the ownership of mortgage land. Lord Morton held that Mohiri Bibi case over section 11 of ICA has set out this principle that minor cannot enter into contract unless guardian was the part of such a deal and if any arrangement is entered then it would be invalid. However, if such arrangement was beneficial for minor and was under the guardian's authority, the it would be binding upon him.

Person Of Unsound Mind:

Under Indian Contract law, a Lunatic is the person who is incapable of understanding and making rational decision relating to its interest while entering into any contract. As per Section 12[5] of Indian Contract Act, a person entering into contract must be of sound mind i.e., should be able to understand what he/she is doing and thereafter form a rational decision pertaining to his own interest in the contract. Therefore, soundness is pre-requisite for a valid contract and lunatic or unsound person would be considered as incompetent under the said provision. In Amina Bibi v. Saiyid Yusuf[6], it was held that a person who is of unsound mind who is at the time of making contract is suffering from unsoundness is incompetent to contract.

Whether Agreement By Minor Is Void Or Voidable:

Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act provides regarding the integrity of the parties and Section 11 states about an individual who are not eligible to enter any contract. However, no clause of the said provisions specifies about the legal implications of a minor entering into any agreement i.e., it was not clear in what circumstances the contract by minor would be void or voidable. Finally, in 1903 the Privy Council settled the dispute in Landmark judgment of Mohiri Bibi v. Dharmodas Ghose as mentioned above. The Court stated that arrangement of the minor was void from the outset i.e., void ab initio. The common belief of "every man is the best judge of his own interest" was omitted in the case.[7]

Legal Effects Of Agreement Entered By Minor:

Since an agreement entered by the minor is considered to be invalid, there won't be any obligation on the party to fulfill the terms of contract and thus the consequences arising out of contract would be void.
  1. No liability or obligation out of contract:
  2. Since minor is incapacitated to give permission, the effect of a minor agreement is null and thus cannot be enforced in the eye of law.
  3. Inapplicability of estoppel clause:
  4. Estoppel is the legitimate rule of evidence which forbids a group from alleging something that undermines what was said and believed upon previously. The Court held that the principle of estoppel would not be applicable to the situation in which an individual was aware about the true facts beforehand, as here the counsel on behalf of defendant was knowing about the fact that the complainant was minor.
  5. Restitution or Restoration of benefits:
  6. The Restitution of benefits is given under Section 64[8] of Indian Contract Act (ICA) and section 33 of Specific Relief Act.

Doctrine of Restitution:
Section 64 of ICA: In case a minor has bought an asset or property by concealing his age or wrongly representing the age, then he may be bound to refund such property, only if the said property which has been sold to minor is traceable. When a situation arises wherein it is impossible to locate the actual merchandise or where minor has taken money instead of goods, then in those cases doctrine of restitution cannot be applied.

Doctrine of restitution is provided under section 33 of the Specific relief Act 1963. This section which was amended states that:
  1. Where a voidable or void contract has been rescinded at the instance of one of the parties, then he may be obliged to restore/repay the benefits received under the said contract and also to compensate the other party.
  2. When defendant defends any case successfully on the ground that contract was invalid against him due to incapacity then he may be required to restore the benefits, which is received by him as per the contract between them.
  • In Jagar Nath Singh v. Laltha Prasad[9], the High Court of Allahabad held that- "if any minor person induces any other person to buy property from him, then he/she would be liable to repay benefits received by them due to the said transaction."
However, the Court cannot require restitution by minor when:
  1. The other party knew about the infancy so that the party was not wrongfully induced;
  2. Where the other party shows nothing material before the court for coming into conclusion that return of money would be in the interest of justice.

In a landmark case of Leslie (R) Ltd. v. Sheill[10], a juvenile successfully fooled some money lenders by wrongly representing his age and borrowing 400 dollars from other them on a presumption that he was adult. The complainant claimed relief of recovery of the principal amount along with the interest as compensation for theft. However, he refused to refund as there was interruption against the minor.

In another case of Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh[11], a minor concealed his age and entered into an agreement to sell a plot of land. After taking Rs. 17,500 as consideration from plaintiff, he refused to fulfill his obligations. However, as per the final judgment, minor was made liable to refund the received consideration.


The term "necessaries" has been defined in the Case of Chapple vs. Cooper[12]:

"Necessaries refers to things without which an individual cannot exist or survive reasonably. This may include things such as food, clothing, lodging, etc. The cloths may be of such quality which will depend upon his rank, his education or medical facilities or other necessaries may differ as per their needs or consumptions." The luxurious things may be included or excluded depending upon the circumstances of minor. Therefore, what constitutes necessaries is a relative fact which can be determined as per the facts and circumstances of each case.[13]

In this case it was held by the Court that funeral expenses were necessaries for the infant.
Therefore, necessaries not only include the bare necessities of life such as food, shelter etc but it also means those things which is necessary to maintain an individual as per their condition in life (i.e., requirements and status. Also, necessaries may be supplied to those people also who are legally dependent upon the minor.

Conditions to be fulfilled to render minor's property for the purpose of necessaries:
  1. The contract or arrangement must be for the goods which was reasonably essential for his existence and;
  2. Minor should not have sufficient supply of necessaries prior to such supply.
The following list have been held by the Court to be "necessaries":
  1. Supplying minor with racing cycle who was apprentice.
  2. Debt arising out of the performance of funeral rites of infant's father.
  3. House provided to the minor on rent for the purpose of his living while pursuing the studies.
  4. Wedding gifts for minor's bride.
  5. Money supplied for defending any criminal process.
  6. Giving loan to a minor on mortgage in order to save minor's estate from enforcement of Court's decree.
In certain cases, Court has observed that in general following things would not be covered within the ambit of "necessaries":
  • In case minor is involved in trade or business, contract entered by him for the purpose of trading would not be considered to be necessaries.
  • Diamonds and other ornamental articles are generally not considered necessaries even if minor lives in high class society except the said articles are particularly essential for the minor (Ryder v. Wombell[14]).
  • Certain objects like ear rings for male, spectacles for wild animal or blind person cannot be covered within the necessaries.

Other Case Laws On Necessaries:

  • In Peters vs. Fleming[1], the Court held that "prima facie it was not reasonable to provide an undergraduate student with watch and watch chain to support him in his degree. Such things cannot be necessaries in the present case.
  • In another case of Nash vs. Inman[2], A minor bought 11 waistcoats from Nash, Plaintiff. At that time, minor was adequately provided with clothes. The Court held that waistcoats were not necessaries under section 68 and thus minor was exempted from paying the amount. Further, the Court observed that- "the supplier of the necessaries has to prove that goods provided to the minor was suitable to the infant's life and goods provided was of such description which the minor was not sufficiently supplied with."
  • In the case of Kundan Bibee v. Sree Narayan[3], A minor received certain goods from Kundan in connection with business and thereafter was indebted to him. When minor attained the majority age, he received more money and undertook to return back the total amount. Plaintiff filed plaint for recovering the debt. It was argued by the minor that he was not obliged to pay back the amount as he was purported to be a minor. However, the Court held that minor would be liable for paying the said amount on the ground that there was new consideration involved in the contract.
  • In Kuwarlal v. Surajmal[4], the case was Regarding necessities provided to minors it was held that "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."
Services provided to Minor: Certain services provided to a minor are included within necessaries. These may include- medical advice, training for trade, education etc. In case supply to the minor is not necessaries but is beneficial to him, then in such a case minor's estate would be liable to be used for reimbursement. Even loan taken by minor in order to obtain necessaries also binds minor and money is recoverable by moneylender in the same manner as if he supplied necessaries. Minor's property would be made liable for recovery.[5]

In Roberts vs. Gray[6], A minor named Gray entered into contract with Roberts (billiards player) to pay him some amount of money in lieu of learning the billiards and play matches with him when he was in his world tour. Thereafter, Roberts spent money and time in making arrangement for match of billiards for minor. The Court held that Minor was bound to pay as the said arrangement was necessaries and was in effect "for instruction, teaching & employment and was required for the minor's benefit.

Liability For Necessaries:

Section 68[7] of the Indian Contract Act points out the liability for necessaries which is being supplied to an individual who is incompetent to contract. The said provisions state that- "if an individual is incompetent to enter into a contract, is supplied with necessaries by another person as per the needs and suitability of such incompetent person, then in such condition the person who has furnished the necessaries will be entitled to be reimbursed from the estate of such incompetent individual."

For example- X supplies with necessaries to B, a person of unsound mind or minor. Here, A is entitled to get reimbursement from the property of minor or person with unsound mind.

Moreover, parents of the minor cannot be held liable for the agreement entered by their minor child unless 1 or more parents jointly sign the said contract and thereafter takes upon themselves the personal liabilities for their own performances. The parents could be made liable also in the cases when minor had committed act which are done in pursuance of direction given by either or both parents.

Nature Of Liability Under Section 68:

There are 2 theories regarding liability of minor's property for necessaries supplied. These are:

In first theory, it is stated that the liability is not dependent upon the consent of minor. It arises by virtue of necessaries supplied to the minor and thus is in the nature of quasi-contract. The other concept which is prevalent in England stated that it is contractual in nature. A contract for supplying necessaries is a kind of contract wherein minor is allowed to enter into arrangement and therefore he is not absolutely free from contractual liabilities.

Section 68 As Quasi Contract:

The term "Quasi" means pseudo and a Quasi contract can be termed as a "pseudo-contract". There can be instances wherein all the essential elements of contract is fulfilled and then also promises and obligation under such arrangement could be enforced by the law. Such arrangement is known as Quasi-contract. These promises are not considered to be legal contracts by Court of law recognizes them as "relations resembling a contract" and they enforce them in the same manner as if it is a valid contract.

The main principle behind approving such contracts are Justice, equity and good conscience. It is based on a legal maxim � "Nemo debet locupletari ex aliena jactura" which means that "No man should grow rich out of the loss of another person".

Section 68 as stated above provides for "Necessaries which are supplied to incapable persons to contract: An incapable person who is supplied by other person with necessaries suited to his life will make property of incapable person liable for reimbursing the other person."[8]

Since we know that any contract by incapable person i.e., lunatic, or minor etc. is void ab initio. The other party who is entitled to be reimbursed cannot bring an action against such minor. However, there is an alternative to get reimbursed when necessaries have been provided to the minor and such claim can be made from the minor's property in the same manner as in which is done in a valid contract. Such reimbursement through minor's property is a kind of Quasi Contract which is based on the principle of unjust enrichment.

Under Indian Contract law, Minor is incompetent individual who is ineligible for entering into contract as the said contract is void ab initio. This was held in the landmark judgment of Mohiri Bibi case. In general, the effect of minor's agreement would be that he would be exempted from liabilities and principle of estoppel would not be applicable. Section 11 and 12 of Indian Contract Act are the relevant sections which provide of competency of parties to the contract.

However, Necessaries supplied to minor lead to making minor's property held liable for the necessaries provided by another under Section 68[9] of the Indian Contract Act. This provision is in the nature of quasi contract which means that it resembles similarly to the contract. Though it's not the valid contract but Court enforces the same in the same manner as if it was a valid one. The said rule is based upon the principle of unjust enrichment and thus minor or incompetent person would be made liable through his property for all the necessaries provided to him or benefits provided to him.

  1. 1840 151 Er 314
  2. 1908 2 Kb 1
  3. 1906 11 Cal W.n. 135.
  4. 1963 Air Mp 58
  5. Minor's Liability for Necessaries (Accessed 26 March 2022)
  6. 1913 1 Kb 520
  7. Supra at 1.
  8. Minor's Contract Under Indian Contract Act, 1872 (Into Legal World) Accessed 27 March 2022.
  9. Supra at 1.
  10. 1903 Ilr 30 Cal 539 Pc
  11. The Indian Contract Act 1872, S. 11: Who Are Competent to Contract.
  12. 1907 Ilr 34 Cal 163.
  13. 1948 50 Bomlr 646.
  14. The Indian Contract Act 1872, S. 12: What Is a Sound Mind for the Purposes of Contracting.
  15. 70 Ind Cas 968.
  16. Agreement with Minor Toppr Accessed 23 March 2022.
  17. The Indian Contract Act, 1872, S. 64: Consequences of Rescission of a Voidable Contract.
  18. 1908 1 Ind Cas 562
  19. 1914 3 K.b.607.
  20. 1928 Lah Hc.
  21. 1844 153 Er 105 A.
  22. Bhawna Minor's Capacity to Contract (Legal Service India) (Accessed 26 March).
  23. 4 Lr Ex 32.
  24. The Indian Majority Act 1875, S. 3: Age of Majority of Persons Domiciled in India
  25. The Indian Contract Act 1872, S. 11: Who Are Competent to Contract.
  26. Supra at 1
  27. Minor's Capacity to Enter into A Contract (Ipleaders, July 20 2016) Accessed 21 March 2022.
  28. The Indian Contract Act 1872, S. 68: Claim for Necessaries Supplied to Person Incapable of Contracting, or on His Account.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly