Legal Implications of Contracts with Minors: Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose, 1903

Contracts with Minors

The landmark judgment of Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose, 1903, revolves around the enforceability of contracts involving minors under Indian law. This pivotal case addresses the void nature of agreements entered into with minors as outlined in the Indian Contract Act of 1872 (ICA).

Legal Framework

Section 11 of the ICA categorically states that minors are not competent to contract, laying the groundwork for this case’s examination.

Judicial Inquiry

At the heart of this case is the exploration of whether contracts made with minors can hold any legal validity, especially in the context of a mortgage deed executed by minors.

Societal Implications

This case not only clarifies the legal standing of contracts with minors but also sets significant precedents for the protection of minors in contractual engagements.

This introduction is crafted to shed light on the fundamental aspects of the Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose case, providing judiciary aspirants with a clear, concise, and comprehensive understanding of its importance in Indian judicial history.


Case Background

The case revolves around a mortgage deed executed on 15th October 1903, by minors in favor of the plaintiffs. This raises questions about the legality of contracts with minors under the Indian Contract Act, of 1872 (ICA).

Minor’s Competence

According to Section 11 of the ICA, a minor is not competent to enter into a contract, making any contract with a minor void ab initio, meaning it is null from the outset.

Court’s Findings

Initially, the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, misunderstanding the defendants’ age and the applicability of Section 68 of the ICA. However, the appellate court corrected this, identifying the defendants as minors and recognizing that the money advanced for marriage expenses did not qualify as “necessaries” under Section 68.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Despite the contract’s void status, the plaintiffs’ claim was decreed based on the defendants’ “fraudulent misrepresentation”.

Legal Precedents

The Privy Council’s decision in Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose established that a minor’s contract is entirely void. This principle is echoed across various High Court rulings, emphasizing that Sections 64 and 65 of the ICA do not apply to minors.

Protection of Minors

The law protects minors from contractual liabilities, indicating that estoppel (preventing someone from arguing something contrary to a claim made or implied by an earlier action) cannot be used against them. This underscores a minor’s unique legal standing, particularly in contractual disputes.

Property Transfer by Minors

The court also highlighted that Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act, of 1882, which deals with transfers by unauthorized persons, does not apply to minors.

This case underscores the complexities involved in contracts with minors and the robust legal framework in place to protect their interests. Understanding these nuances is crucial for judiciary aspirants, as it highlights the intersection of contract law and the protection of vulnerable parties in the legal system.

Issues Involved

The crux of the legal dilemma in this hearing revolves around two pivotal questions: Firstly, can the plaintiff enforce a mortgage deed against defendants who, being minors at the time of the contract, are legally deemed incompetent to enter into contractual agreements? Secondly, does the nature of the contract necessitate its legal existence, which ostensibly cannot materialize in the context of a minor’s involvement?

This case intricately navigates through the intricate legal fabric concerning contracts with minors, challenging the traditional boundaries of contractual enforceability under the Indian Contract Act, 1872. It delves deep into the realms of legal protection afforded to minors, juxtaposing it against the principles of equity and fairness, thereby inviting a nuanced examination of the legal doctrines governing contracts and the inherent protections designed to shield minors from potential exploitation. The engaging narrative of this case not only elucidates the complexities involved but also fosters a critical understanding of the legal mechanisms at play, making it a riveting exploration for judiciary aspirants.


In the intricate web of legal principles and statutory provisions, the case under discussion brings to light the indelible boundary that the Indian legal system places on contracts involving minors. The pivotal judgment, reiterating the principle laid down in Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose, serves as a cornerstone, reinforcing that contracts with minors remain void ab initio within Indian jurisdiction. This judgment does not merely serve as a legal precedent; it embodies the protective shield the law extends over minors, safeguarding their interests against potential exploitation and legal entanglements. For judicial aspirants, this case exemplifies the paramount importance of understanding the nuanced interplay between statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.