Contractual liability of a minor
This is another tricky area of contract law that is quite popular with paper setters. The initiation about a minor’s contract is already done; some specific details of contractual liability are on a minor and his estate. A minor cannot take any contractual liability on himself by acting on his own. He is not competent to enter into any contract. Any contract entered into by a minor during minority is void ab initino, Such void contracts cannot be enforced in any way, and thus such a contract does not lead to any contractual liability.
Nevertheless, this does not bar a minor from acquiring liability and enjoying benefits of a contract When a contract is made by a lawful and a competent guardian on behalf of the minor, it will be a valid contract if the contract was entered into for the benefit of the minor. However, if a guardian enters a contract against the interest of the minot, such a contract may be voidable at the option of the minor. Agreements beneficial to minors are valid contracts
If the minor is a beneficiary, i.e. stands to benefit from the contract, the contract is valid and enforceable. Even then, the minor himself does not enter into the contract; it is always the guardian on his behalf Example: In the case of Raghava Chariar v Srinivasa, a mortgagee was a minor He had lent some money to an adult mortgagor. The person tried to avoid the liability stating that the contract of mortgage was a minor’s contract and therefore not enforceable. The High Court of Madras held that where the contract was validly entered into by a lawful guardian for the benefit of the minor, the contract could be enforced in favour of the minor When a contract is entered into in order to either buy or sell property in interest of the minor, it is valid. The judiciousness of the decision is not to be adjudicated upon by the court as long as the intention is to enter into a contract beneficial to the minor.
Example: Ranvir parents died when he was young. They left him a big estate including acres of land in a suburb of Bangalore. After a long drawn legal battle. Ranvir’s aunt has been appointed his legal guardian. In 2001, she decided that to take advantage of the land boom, Ranvir’s land holdings in and around Bangalore should be sold off and invested elsewhere. Accordingly, she entered into a contract with a promoter for a few crores on behalf of Ranvir. Another relative, who claims to be a well wisher of Ranvir, filed a case stating that although acquiring property for a minor is in his interest, selling it off is not so. There is no possibility of the land prices in Bangalore falling in near future. The selling of the property is therefore not in interest of the minor. Would the court entertain such an objection? The answer is it would not. Once a person is appointed a guardian for good reasons, the merits of his decisions are not to be adjudicated upon by a court. There can be several courses of action that can all be more or less beneficial to the minor.
According to his choice, the guardian can take any of those courses and the court would not intervene until it is prima facie against the interest of the minor. Some legal guardians competent to enter into a contract on behalf of a child would be:
either parent natural guardian, in absence of parents
a guardian appointed by a court of law adoptive parents
By Palak Agarwal at LexCliq