According to the Indian majority act, 1875, a minor is one who has not completed his or her 18 years of age. Thus, a minor is a person who is below the age of eighteen years.
Law relating to contracts entered into with a minor. The position of agreements with or by minor may be summarised as under:
1. An agreement with or by a minor is void- An agreement with a minor is void ab initio. In the case of Mohori Bibi v. Dharmo Das Ghose, the minor borrowed money from mohori by executing a mortgage of his property in favour of mohori. Subsequently dharmo sued for setting aside the mortgage. The privy council held that section 10 and 11 of indian contract act make the minor’s agreement void and therefore the mortgage was not valid. Mohori prayed for refund of money. It was held that the money advanced to minor can’t be recovered because minor’s agreement was void.
2. No estoppel against a minor – There can be no estoppel against a minor where a minor has entered into a contract by misrepresenting his age, he cannot be made liable on the contract. But court may direct the minor to restore the property to the other party as “minors can have no privilege to cheat men”.
3. No ratification on attaining the age of majority – An agreement with minor is void ab initio, therefore, it cannot be made valid by subsequent ratification on attaining the age of majority.
4. Minor can be beneficiary- A Minor can be a beneficiary. Any agreement which provides some benefit to the minor and under which he is required to bear no obligation, is valid. As per the law, the minor is not incompetent for accepting a benefit. For example, where a minor has sold goods, he is entitled to recover the price from the buyer.
5. No insolvency – A minor cannot be declared insolvent.
6. No specific performance except in certain cases- The court will never direct ‘specific performance’ of an agreement by minor. But a contract entered into by the guardian or manager on minor’s behalf can be specifically enforced if it is within the authority and it is for the benefit of the minor.
7. Minor as Partner – A minor cannot be a partner in a firm. However, according to section 30 of Indian partnership act, 1932, he can be admitted to the benefits of partnership with the consent of all partners.
8. Minor as an agent – A minor can be appointed as an agent but he will not be personally liable for any of his acts.
9. Surety for minor – A minor cannot be surety as he is not liable to pay under a contract. Where an adult stands surety for a minor, the adult is liable to third party.
10. Liability for necessaries- According to section 68 of Indian contract act, 1872, a minor is not personally liable, it is his property only which is liable. If he has no property, the supplier will get nothing for necessaries supplied. If he has property, supplier will get reasonable price only. The word necessaries include articles required to maintain a particular person in the state, degree and station in life in which he is. In India, food, clothing, shelter and education have been held to be necessaries.