Mohori Bibee vs Dharmodas Ghosh

Mohori Bibee vs Dharmodas Ghosh



CASE- Mohori Bibee vs Dharmodas Ghosh 


In law, the notion of minority is interpreted and applied differently. Adolescents are subject to different laws than adults. Anyone under the age of eighteen is considered a minor in India. Minorities stand out because there is a widespread perception that those who have not reached a particular stage of maturity lack the mental ability to carry out specific tasks or activities. This maturity level is typically assumed to be above the age of 18, meaning that an individual who reaches that age has developed a particular level of reasoning. The legal age of majority is eighteen, albeit this may not always be the case. This applies to all areas of law, including contract, criminal, and civil.  Minors are not allowed to fulfill certain responsibilities.

A person is not competent to enter into a contract if he has not reached the age of majority, which is 18 years old, according to Indian contract law, which is codified in the Indian Contract Act of 1872. This implies that a contract that was made with someone who was underage at the time of entry will be void, meaning it will have no legal weight and cannot be upheld in court. No one may present that contract in order to have their obligations upheld or their rights enforced. The Indian courts have upheld this position on multiple occasions; one such instance was Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose.


  • Dhormodas (plaintiff) has mortgaged his land in favour of Brahmo Dutt (Defendant) when he was a minor.
  • Brahmor Dutt was a money lender in Calcutta. He took a loan of 20,000 from him. In arrange to take the loan; he mortgaged his house as security.
  • The deal was completed when Brahmo Dutt was not here and it was completed by his attorney named, Kedar Nath , who had the information of the plaintiff is a minor.
  • The real amount of loan given was less than Rs 20,000.
  • On September 10, 1895, Dharmodas along with his mother filed a suit against Brahmo Dutt initial that the mortgage that was executed by Dharmodas was commenced when he was a minor.
  • Further contended that the contract with a minor is void and such a contract ought to be rescinded and revoked.
  • When the appeal was in process, Brahmo Dutt had died and the further proceedings were done by his executor’s.


  1. What is the nature of minor’s agreement?
  1. Whether the lifeless was void under section 2, 10(5), 11(6) of the Indian contract Act 1872 or not?
  1. Whether the mortgaged commenced was avoidable or not?


 Brahmo Dutt and his agents, Mr. Kedar and Mr. Dedraj possessed information of the respondent’s real age. Since the respondent was a minor at the moment of executing the mortgage, the contract is void.

 The plaintiff argued that the respondent was a major when he executed the mortgage neither the appellant nor his agent had any notice that the respondent as a minor. That the respondent prepared a fraudulent declaration about his age and is hence disentitled from seeking any release. The knowledge of the respondent’s real age which Mr. Kedar Nath Mitter obsessed ought to not be imputed to the appellants as Mr. Dedraj acted as the agent of Brahmo Dutt in this contract.

 According to section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the respondent cannot claim that he was a minor when he executed the mortgage. The respondent must pay back the amount advanced according to section 64 and 38 of the Indian Contract Act (1872); and section 41 of the Specific Relief Act (1877). The Indian Contract Act (1872) does not deal with contracts by minors.


 Section 10 of the Contract Act requires that the parties should be competent to contract. 

Competence to contract is defined in Section 11:  Who are capable to contract- A person can enter into an agreement if he or she is of majority by law, of sound mind, and is not prohibited from doing so by law.

Effect of minor’s agreement

  1. act in contract cannot be changed into an action in tort:

In Jhonson v. Pye a child by fraudulently misrepresenting his age induced the Plaintiff to lend him 300 dollar. The plaintiff brought an action not for the tort of dishonesty. The action was rejected by the court on the grounds that it was a not direct way of enforcing the contract which is void. Therefore an action of contract cannot be changed into an action in tort so as to make the infant responsible. The court added than if an action in contract is allowable to be converted into an action in tort; the entire minor’s in England may be ruined

  1. Equitable Doctrine of Restitution:

If a minor obtains some land by fraudulently misrepresenting his era, he can be ordered to restore the property or goods thus obtained. This is called the equitable doctrine. Under the English law, a minor may be compelled to reinstate the goods or land so long as they are traceable. Money being usually not traceable, a minor cannot be asked to restore it.

  1. Principal of Estoppels not applicable:

The term ‘estoppels’ may be defined as prevention of a claim or declaration by law. In other words, when somebody makes another person to trust that a particular thing or fact is true, then later on he cannot be allowable to deny the truth of that thing. It will be attractive to know that there is no such estoppel against the minor. In other words, when a minor fraudulently enters into a contract, representing that he is a major, but in actuality he is not, then later on he can appeal his minority as a defense and cannot be stopped (i.e. prevented) from doing so.


Sir Ford North wrote and pronounced the judgment relying upon the agreements that were put ahead by the respondent and taken following facts into thought that, Kedar Nath was in full accuse of this contract on behalf of Brahmo dutt in the ability of an agent and principal.

The court held that section 115 of the Evident Act does not apply in the current case because both the parties were conscious of the truth and the appellant was not misled. Relying on this, Privy Council in custody that, there was no contract among the parties as attaining majority is necessary to form a contract. Therefore this contract was void Ab-initio (void from beginning) and in furtherance to it, as there was no contract in existence, so all the deal that place through that course doesn’t exist in the year of law.

According to section 64 of Indian Contract Act (1872), when a person at whose choice a contract is voidable rescinds the contract, he must reinstate to the other party any profit that he might have received from that party. Their Lordships found the similar to be valid only in the case of persons capable to contract and not in the case of minors who are incompetent to contract. The judgment of the lower courts to decree in the respondent’s favour without ordering him to return the money advanced was upheld by the Privy Council.

The impugned mortgage in the immediate case was executed under the shift of Property Act (1882). Section 7 of the aforementioned Act says that a person must be competent to contract in order to be competent to relocate property. According to section 4 of that Act, the sections and chapters related to contracts form part of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Hence, the immediate case was considered to drop under Transfer of Property Act (1882).

In considering sections 2 and 10 of the Indian Contract Act (1872), Their Lordships held that the Act emphasizes the importance of all contracting parties being “competent to contract,” and specifically states that an incompetent person to contract as a result of his or her minority cannot enter into a contract with the Act. Their Lordships also considered different other provisions of the same Act to point out the void nature of a contract by a minor. Sec. 68 states that if a person incapable of entering into a contract or any one whom he is lawfully bound to support is supplied by another person with necessaries suited to his situation in life, the person who has furnished such supplies is allowed to be reimbursed from the property of such incapable person. It is clear from the Act that a minor is not liable even for necessaries, and that no demand with respect to the same is enforceable against him by law, though a legal claim is created against his property. Agents and employees under the age of majority are prohibited under sections 183 and 184. A person under majority may benefit from the profit of a partnership, but he cannot be held personally liable for any of its obligations; although he may accept those obligations upon attaining majority.


 This case played a giant role in building up the law of minor entering into the contract and recognized the framework for the advanced act of entering into the contract with a minor. This case is referred to as the most important case in the precedent-based law related to a contract with a minor. It recognized the law that any agreement with an infant cannot be administered against them.

In cases, parents of minors or custodians shall not be responsible where the dealing is complete by the minor without their approval or knowledge, and hence they will not be liable to return the amount taken by the minor out of the proper obligations. But parents and guardians will be liable to pay back the amount when minor or an infant acted with the consent of his/her parents or his/ her custodians. If any minor has got any profit out of the void contact that he/she cannot be forced to reimburse it back or make recompense for it.


A contract with a minor is therefore considered void ab-initio (void from the beginning) by Mahori Bibee vs. Dharmodas Ghose. Therefore, a void contract prevented a minor from reimbursing the beneficiary amount or compensation. A guardian or custodian can form a contract on behalf of a minor. Where the contract was guided by the custodian, money taken by deceit can be forced to be repaid since the decision was made by a custodian who was mature and sensible enough to give his approval. This fulfilled the necessary competency to enter into a contract pertaining to minorities.

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