Minority has been an attraction point for diverse opinions. Some legal
luminaries think that minority of anybody shall not be a way to escape from
liability that arises from his own acts.
Nowadays it is widely witnessed that minors commit crimes and wrongs and get
saved because they live in the providence of law which cannot see anything.
There are many instances when minors commit such horrible crimes that shake the
entire humanity but get exonerated because of their age. A few to mention are:
Of the six perpetrators, one was juvenile (minor), he was sent to
3 yrs reformation by juvenile justice board and was then released. According to
media reports, he was in fact, the most brutal and callous of all the
perpetrators as he was the one who attacked her with an iron rod.
Also in the Ryan International School Murder Case, the prime accused of the
murder of an 8-year-old boy was a minor studying in class 11th of the same
These are just two of many incidents that show that Minors are capable of
forming intention for committing serious crimes, so they should be made liable
for their deliberate acts.
Turning the coin, on the other side, there are many minors who have excellent
intellect as to start and run businesses, do programming, act in movies and
serials, etc. A few examples are,
Bhavya Gandhi:- Acted in famous T.V. serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma from
the age of 10 and continued it till 20.
Keshav and Neeha Gupta are two children who began writing books when they were
10 and 14 respectively.
Further, even at the time of taking admissions in colleges and universities,
many students are minors. So, it is clear that usually minors have sufficient
intellect at the ages of 15-16 to judge what they are doing. Thus, Minors are no
longer as innocent as they used to be when education was not widespread. Now
since even brains are changing with times, laws must also bow down to its force
and change themselves so that they can provide justice in the real sense.
In this project work titled Law of Minor Agreement: Time ripen for change or
not, we will discuss the viability of laws relating to Minor agreement and will
try to find out that whether these laws are failing to keep pace with time or
Who is a minor?
Any person below the age of majority is said to be a minor and such state is
called minority. The age of majority of any person depends upon the law to which
he is subject. For every person domiciled in India, the age of majority is 18
years. However, there is an exception to this, if a guardian is appointed for
the property or person of a minor by a court, he will be considered major at the
age of 21 and not before.
The validity of a Minor Agreement
A minor has been implicitly declared incompetent to contract by § 11 of The
Indian Contract Act. When this issue arose in 1903 in Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas
Ghose, it was settled that contract between a major and minor is no contract
under the definition of §11 and hence it cannot be judged as null or voidable.
Since then, it is a widely accepted principle that agreement with a minor is
In another case, the question was whether the mortgage executed in favor of a
minor who has advanced the entire mortgage sum, is enforceable by the minor
himself or his guardian or not. The court held that the purpose of the law which
renders minors incompetent to enter into or bind themselves to any contract is
just to protect them from any off-beam consequence of their actions which they
themselves might not be aware of. But at the same time, it would be appalling if
they cannot receive anything, even after they have parted with their money.
This created another principle which loosely fits into the following words:
If in any certain agreement minor has furnished consideration or performed his
part of the promise, he must not stand at any disadvantage due to his minority.
Another case that is indispensable to discuss in this context is Raj Rani v.
. The facts of this case are,
The Plaintiff, a minor was given a role to play in a film by the defendant. The
plaintiff’s father entered into an agreement with the defendant on 15th January
1947, that plaintiff would work with the defendant for one year till
14th January 1948, in exchange for Rs 9,500 which she will receive in twelve equal instalments.
After one month the defendant stopped giving her work and in March he got
another artist and terminated the contract with her father.
In this case, The Bombay High Court held that “neither she nor her father could
have sued on the promise. If it was a contract with the plaintiff, she being a
minor, it was nullity. If it was a contract with her father it was void for
being without consideration. The promise of a minor girl to serve, being not
enforceable against her, cannot furnish any consideration for the defendant's
promise to pay her a salary.”
The case of Raj Rani v. Prem Adib
was decided just upon the literal
interpretation of the lines of the law. The reasoning behind making a minor
incompetent to contract was that a minor, due to his age is incapable to
understand the nature and the consequences of the agreement in which he or she
This immaturity due to age increases a minor’s susceptibility to
being lulled into any harmful agreement. In order to prevent any such
possibility, the law declares a minor incompetent to contract and any agreement
by a minor a null or void agreement.
Here arises a pertinent question, “ Why should a minor be prevented from
contracting if he or she is benefitted from the agreement?”
The constitution of India gives everybody Freedom of the profession, then why
minors cannot enter into any agreement for selling skills that they already
possess like, painting, singing, writing, acting, etc. They must be provided
such an opportunity.
The reasoning that is generally provided is that the minors are not in a
position to make a reasonable judgment regarding whether the agreement in which
they are entering is beneficial for them or not. True. The contracts relating to
apprenticeship are covered under The Indian Apprentices Act, 1850. § 9 of the
same act requires the guardian of a minor to enter into an agreement on the
behalf of the minor. If such a facility is provided by one law why shall not The
Indian Contract Act provide it? Allowing minors to enter into a contract in such
a manner will also increase the confidence of the other party that the contract
wouldn’t be breached by the minor.
Further, it would be too far from rationality to assume that a whole lot of
sense and shrewdness would be poured down to a minor’s brain on the
18th Anniversary of his birthday, as to make him capable of forming rational
judgments regarding his acts. The undeniable fact is that such reasonableness or
shrewdness is a result of experience and education that he receives in life.
Seeing the changes in time, The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 was amended in 2015
with a provision allowing for Children in Conflict with Law (CCL) of age group
16 to 18 years to be tried as adults, when they commit heinous crimes i.e. one
that attracts a minimum of 7 years as punishment.If this law can afford
changes for the betterment of society then why The Indian Contract Act cannot,
for the betterment of minors.
Hence, minors above 16 years should be allowed to enter into any agreement,
on their own, which:
- Does not impose any financial obligation or burden upon the minor such
as the contract for loan, debt, mortgage, etc.
- Does not employ them in hazardous or immoral activities.
- Does not encroach upon any of their fundamental or legal rights.
- Does not snatch their educational rights or hamper their education.
Because any normal child who is of 16 years is able to make a better choice
between his good and bad. If the age of a minor is an issue then, there cannot
be a single age that can determine a person’s capability. Even different sources
provide different ages as to when a person should be understood as capable of
understanding his acts and made responsible. In ancient texts it was,
आ चतुर्दशकाद् वर्षान्न भविष्यति पातकम् ।
परतः कुर्वतामेवं दोष एव भविष्यति ।। १७ ।।
- महर्षि वेदव्यास रचित महाभारत,
This verse says that no one on this earth would be punished for his wrong
acts before the age of fourteen. Only those above the age of fourteen would be
punished for their sins.
Further, as per a newspaper report, psychological studies have told that a
person at 16 years of age is able to clearly demarcate what is good for him and
what is bad for him. Further, it says that there is nothing wrong with reducing
the age of majority to 16 years as it would be scientifically utilitarian and
innocuous too. The age of 18 years as it is now, is widely supported as the
age of majority.
The point here is not to advocate bringing the age of majority down to 16 years
or less, but to show that, if a minor can be made liable for his acts at an age,
less than 18 years and if it can be assumed that a minor of 16 years is able to
differentiate between his good and bad, then it can also be assumed that the
sense of reasonableness that is required for making an agreement is also present
in minors. Thus allowing them to enter into any such (mentioned above) agreement
would be quite judicious and good for society.
Further, The supreme law of the country, The Constitution of India, in
fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy, declares,
employment below the age of 14 years as child employment and prohibits it and
employment of children above 14 years of age till 18 years in hazardous works.
The reasoning behind this was that the period less than 14 years of age is time
for any child to gain basic education which is his fundamental right and nobody
can breach it.
Further if any minor of more than 14 years of age can get himself employed in
any non-hazardous work, then why shall he be deprived of the right to enter into
any agreement which does not deprive him of his money or property or rights.
Additionally, it would be very impractical to let minors be employed without
giving them legal competence to enter into an agreement. This would surely open
the ways for employers to exploit the minors without any legal opposition.
Now let's come to the consumers in the market. Generally, minors as young as 10
years go and buy things of their needs and some things that every household
generally needs and they are quite apt at determining the quality of goods and
choosing which one to buy. If minors can possess such knowledge then why should
not they have the competency to enter into such daily life contracts? Allowing
minors to enter into simple daily life contracts by conferring legal
enforceability upon the agreements made by them will surely empower the younger
generation of the country.
Minors are also a part of society and their interests cannot be ignored. Though
there is no doubt that initially, the law intended the same thing but changing
with ever-changing times is also necessary. Wherever minors are able to enter
into any contract independently i.e. those agreements where minors have to make
no compromise with their money or property or education or public morality,
minors above the age of 16 years should be allowed to do so. And wherever the
minor is below 16 years of age and no such interest of the minor is being
compromised with, parents or the lawful guardians of minors should be legally
empowered to enter into any such agreement. In this manner the law will be able
to serve two purposes, first, it will be able to safeguard the interests of
minors and second, it will empower the young generation with the armament of
This is a widely known fact that time is dynamic in nature. Only a society that
changes and updates itself along with and according to the vicissitudes of time
can flourish. Laws are a crucial element of any society. They determine the way
and speed with which society develops. Agreements form the base of almost every
legal relationship in any society so why should minors be kept deprived of the
competence to enter into any legally enforceable contract?
With the increase in education access to children, they are gradually getting
aware of worldly things, and now minors are willing to sell their skills,
talent, and knowledge and they must not be stopped just because of their age.
Everyone including the minors should have the right to do everything that is
legally right and age-appropriate.
As far as the ripeness of time is concerned it would be no wrong to say that we
are behind the time in regard to this change. Today even while entering into
university many students are minor. Universities are entirely a new and unknown
world. For those who do not have any identity, the law becomes their identity
and protects them from any sort of injustice. This is also an irrefutable logic
why minors should be allowed to enter into any agreement.
Thus, the time is ripe to move ahead from absolutely void to a legally
- OpIndia Staff, What happened to the juvenile rapist of the Nirbhaya
gang-rape case: Here are the details, OpIndia, (Dec. 20, 2020, 12:49
- Apoorva Mandhani, HC rejects bail plea of accused student in Ryan School
murder, treats him as adult, The Print, (Dec. 20, 2020, 1:00PM) https://theprint.in/judiciary/hc-rejects-bail-plea-of-accused-student-in-ryan-school-murder-treats-him-as-adult/452246/
- Joeanna Rebello Fernandes, When 10-year-olds are published authors, The
Times Of India, (Dec. 20, 2020, 1:22 PM) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/when-10-year-olds-are-published-authors/articleshow/62772651.cms
- The Indian Contract Act ,1872, § 11, Act No. 9 of 1872
- Majority Act, 1875, § 3, Act 9 of 1875
- Mohori Bibee v Dharmodas Ghose, (1902-03) 30 lA 114: ILR (1903) 30 Cal
- A.T. Raghava Chariar v O.M. Srinivasa Raghava Chariar, ILR (1916)40 Mad
- (1949) 51 BOMLR 256
- AVTAR SINGH, CONTRACT AND SPECIFIC RELIEF 165 ( Eastern Book Company
- Sadaf Modak, Explained: When a juvenile is tried as an adult, when not,
The Indian Express, (Dec. 22, 2020, 1:03 PM) https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/when-a-juvenile-is-tried-as-an-adult-when-not-5840823/
- MAHARISHI VED VYAS, MAHABHARAT, Aadi Parv, Saptadhikshat Adhyay
- Maitreyee Boruah, Should a 16-year-old be treated as an adult?, The
Times Of India, (Dec. 22, 2020, 4:42 PM) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/spotlight/Should-a-16-year-old-be-treated-as-an-adult/articleshow/22228157.cms