Indian Contract Act, 1872 (Sec. 10-19)

CONTRACTS, VOIDABLE CONTRACTS AND VOID AGREEMENTS

SECTION 10.  What agreements are contracts?

All agreements are contracts if they are made by the free consent of parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not hereby expressly declared to be void. Nothing herein contained shall affect any law in force in India and not hereby expressly repealed by which any contract is required to be made in writing or in the presence of witnesses, or any law relating to the registration of documents.

SECTION 11.  Who are competent to contract.

Every person is competent to contract who is of the age of majority according to the law to which he is subject, and who is of sound mind and is not disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subject.

SECTION 12.  What is a sound mind for the purposes of contracting.

A person is said to be of sound mind for the purpose of making a contract, if, at the time when he makes it, he is capable of understanding it and of forming a rational judgment as to its effect upon his interests. A person who is usually of unsound mind, but occasionally of sound mind, may make a contract when he is of sound mind. A person who is usually of sound mind, but occasionally of unsound mind, may not make a contract when he is of unsound mind.

Illustrations

 (a) A patient in a lunatic asylum, who is at intervals of sound mind, may contract during those intervals.

 (b) A sane man, who is delirious from fever or who is so drunk that he cannot understand the terms of a contract, or form a rational judgment as to its effect on his interests, cannot contract whilst such delirium or drunkenness lasts.

SECTION 13. “Consent” defined.

Two or more persons are said to consent when they agree upon the same thing in the same sense.

SECTION 14.  “Free consent” defined.

Consent is said to be free when it is not caused by–

 (1) coercion, as defined in section 15, or

 (2) undue influence, as defined in section 16, or

 (3) fraud, as defined in section 17, or

 (4) misrepresentation, as defined in section 18, or

 (5) mistake, subject to the provisions of sections 20, 21 and 22.

Consent is said to be so caused when it would not have been given but for the existence of such coercion, undue influence, fraud, misrepresentation or mistake.

SECTION 15.  “Coercion” defined.

“Coercion” is the committing, or threatening to commit, any act forbidden by the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or the unlawful detaining, or threatening to detain, any property, to the prejudice of any person whatever, with the intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement.

Explanation.—It is immaterial whether the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) is or is not in force in the place where the coercion is employed.

Illustration

(a)A, on board an English ship on the high seas, causes B to enter into an agreement by an act amounting to criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code. (45 of 1860).

(b)A afterwards sues B for breach of contract at Calcutta.

(c)A has employed coercion, although his act is not an offence by the law of England, and although section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) was not in force at the time when or place where the act was done.

SECTION 16. “Undue influence” defined.

(1) A contract is said to be induced by “undue influence” where the relations subsisting between the parties are such that one of the parties is in a position to dominate the will of the other and uses that position to obtain an unfair advantage over the other.

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing principle, a person is deemed to be in a position to dominate the will of another–

(a) where he holds a real or apparent authority over the other, or where he stands in a fiduciary relation to the other; or

(b) where he makes a contract with a person whose mental capacity is temporarily or permanently affected by reason of age, illness, or mental or bodily distress.

(3) Where a person who is in a position to dominate the will of another, enters into a contract with him, and the transaction appears, on the face of it or on the evidence adduced, to be unconscionable, the burden of proving that such contract was not induced by undue influence shall lie upon the person in a position to dominate the will of the other.

Nothing in this sub-section shall affect the provisions of section 111 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872).

Illustrations

 (a) A having advanced money to his son, B, during his minority, upon Bs coming of age obtains, by misuse of parental influence, a bond from B for a greater amount than the sum due in respect of the advance. A employs undue influence.

(b) A, a man enfeebled by disease or age, is induced, by Bs influence over him as his medical attendant, to agree to pay B an unreasonable sum for his professional services, B employs undue influence.

SECTION 17.   “Fraud” defined.

“Fraud” means and includes any of the following acts committed by a party to a contract, or with his connivance, or by his agent, with intent to deceive another party thereto of his agent, or to induce him to enter into the contract:—

(1) the suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;

(2) the active concealment of a fact by one having knowledge or belief of the fact;

(3) a promise made without any intention of performing it;

(4) any other act fitted to deceive;

(5) any such act or omission as the law specially declares to be fraudulent.

Explanation.—Mere silence as to facts likely to affect the willingness of a person to enter into a contract is not fraud, unless the circumstances of the case are such that, regard being had to them, it is the duty of the person keeping silence to speak, or unless his silence is, in itself, equivalent to speech.

Illustrations

(a) A sells, by auction, to B, a horse which A knows to be unsound. A says nothing to B about the horses unsoundness. This is not fraud in A.

(b) B is A’s daughter and has just come of age. Here, the relation between the parties would make it A’s duty to tell B if the horse is unsound.

(c) B says to A—”If you do not deny it, I shall assume that the horse is sound.” A says nothing. Here, A’s silence is equivalent to speech.

SECTION 18. “Misrepresentation” defined.

“Misrepresentation” means and includes—

(1) the positive assertion, in a manner not warranted by the information of the person making it, of that which is not true, though he believes it to be true;

(2) any breach of duty which, without an intent to deceive, gains an advantage to the person committing it, or any one claiming under him; by misleading another to his prejudice, or to the prejudice of any one claiming under him;

(3) causing, however innocently, a party to an agreement, to make a mistake as to the substance of the thing which is the subject of the agreement.

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