MINOR’S LIABILITY IN INDIAN PARTNERSHIP ACT, 1932 by Rishabh Singh at LexCliq

 

A minor, being incapable to make an agreement or contract, cannot be a partner in the firm. However, he may be admitted only to the benefits of the firm with the consent of all other partners.  “A  person  can  become  a  partner  only  by  an  act  of  consent:  i)  on  the  part  of himself; ii) on the part of all the other partners. A minor is incapable of giving consent so he or  she  cannot  become  a  partner  but  with  the  consent  of  all  others  he  or  she  can  only  be admitted  to  the  benefits  of  the  partnership.  Since  the  minor  who  has  been  admitted  to  the benefits of the partnership does not mean he is a partner, he cannot determine or dissolve the partnership by himself by issuing a written notice.”

:- There are this doctrine which help us to understand this more clearly:-

  • Doctrine  of  Estoppels:-There  is  no  estoppels  against  the  minor.  It  means  when  a minor fraudulently enters into a contract, representing that he is a major, but in reality he is not, then later on he/she can plead his/her minority as a defence and cannot be stopped from doing so. In case of  Nawab Sadiq Ali Khan v.  Jai Kishori, it was held by Privy Council that if a minor makes a contract by fraudulently expressing his age more than actual then he cannot be stopped as per the rules of estoppels that he was minor at the time of contract. In the case of Vaikuntarama Pillai v. Authimoolam Chettiar,  there  is  a  clear  statutory  provisions  that  a  minor  being  incompetent  to contract  is  incapable  of  incurring  any  liability  for  any  debt,  the  law  of  estoppels cannot  over  rule  this  provision  to  make  him  liable  was  observed  by  Madras  High Court.”  In the other words money was obtained by a minor misrepresenting his age, that amounted to a fraud and he might be made to refund it, but, in the absence of fraud, refund could not be ordered.
  • Doctrine of Restitution:-  In the case of Leslie v. Sheill, it was held by the Court of Appeal  that  the  money  could  not  be  recovered.  If  there  were  allowed  that  would amount to enforcing the agreement to repay loan, which is void under Infants Relief Act, 1874. As regards to the point of restoring back the property is concerned, Lord Summer  referred  and  made  observation  in  the  case  of  Stocks  v.  Wilson.  England restitution  is  restoring  back  the  property  by  a  fraudulent  minor  is  permitted,  if  the property  can  be  trace.  Now,  it  is  a  question  which  arises  how  far  a  minor  can  be required  to  restore  back  the  benefit  wrongly  obtained  by  him  or  her  under  a  void agreement  where  a  minor  is  asked  to  pay  compensation  to  the  other  party  is  dealt under the side heading Compensation by a Minor in India.

CONCLUSION

It is general assumption that mental faculties of a minors are in nascent state.  “Minor is not mature enough to understand what is good and what its implications on his/her interest are. In the light of it, law protects a  minor, so that any person by making an agreement with him/her cannot take advantage of his/her minority. Minority in India is a fact but not privilege as in England. Law always protects a minor. A person who has not completed his or her 18 years of age is  known as a minor. There is no specific age limits to define a minor age. Different legislations in  India  explain minor with  different  age  group because  of cultural, economic, political  structure  of  India.  There  are  no  estoppels  against  a  minor  and  no  subsequent ratification  of  a  minor’s  agreement.  A  minor  cannot  be  bound  by  contract  but  he  can  be  a lawful beneficiary. A minor can be admitted to the benefits of partnership. A Minor can act as an agent. A minor cannot be member of a registered company. A contract for the marriage of a minor is for his or her benefit. However, only the minor can get such a contract enforced. In general  contract  cannot  be  enforced  against  the  minor  unless  it  comes  under  special circumstances. There should be always mutuality or  consensus of mind in the contract with a minor. Contracts entered into on behalf of a minor, by his guardian or by a manager of his estate.  In  such  a  case  the  same  can  specifically  enforced  by  or  against  the  minor  if  the contract is one which it is within  the competence of the guardian, to enter into on his behalf so  as  to  bind  him  by  it,  and  further  if  it  is  for  the  benefit  of  the  minor.  If  either  of  these conditions is wanting, the contract cannot be specifically enforced at all.

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