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INTRODUCTION
It has already known t hat a minor¶s agreement is void ab initio, according to section11 of
Indian Contracts Act, 1872. Section 11 states that of Indian Contract Act, 1872.However, for
t he necessaries supplied t o a minor reimbursemen t is per mitted to t he person supplying such
necessaries. This is not on the basis of any contract bet ween the parties but because it is
deemed t o b e a quasi contractual obligation.

T he project has been divided into four chapters, namely

i.c V  Under this chapter the concept b ehind the topic has been dealt. Section 68
of the Indian Contract Act provides for the liability for necessaries supplied to persons
incompetent to contract.x  68:Claim for n  ari  li d to  ron
inaabl of ontrating, or on hi aont
ii.c ^  
 The liability is only for necessaries, but t here is no definition
of the ter m ³necessaries´ in the act. The necessaries supplied to minor ³should be
suited to his condition in life´. It does not mean bare necessities of life, but means
such things as may be necessary to maintain a person according to his condition in
life.

c      There are two related theories, accordi ng to 1st liability does not
depend upon minor¶s consent. And the 2nd view of liability in England is that it is
contractual. 

iv.c V    V    There are several landmark cases under this topic of Indian
Contract Act as the ter m µnecessaries¶ has not be defi ned under any section of the act
so the ter m has been interpreted according to t he decided case laws. Some of the
prominent cases and case laws have b een described in this chapter. Cas es mentioned
are as follows:
a)c Chappel v. Cooper (1844)13 M&W 252
b)c Joga n ram Marwari v. Mahadeo Prasad Sahu, (1909) 36 Cal 768,776
c)c P eters v. Fleming (1840) 6 M&W 42: 9 LJ Ex 81
d)c Nash v. Inman (1908) 2 KB 1
In this way t he topic of Liability of Minor¶s for Necessaries Supplied is covered.

CHAPTER I: CONCEPT

T he rule of law is clearly established that an infant is generally incapable of bindi ng hims elf
by a contract. But to this rule, there is an exception introduced not for the benefit of t he
tradesman who may trust the infant, but for that of the infant hims elf. This exception is that
he may make contract for necessaries.1

In Indian Contract act, section 68 provides that a minor falls within the class of persons
referred to in the section, and so, thou gh he is not liable even for the necessaries and no
dema nd in respect t her eof is enforceable against him by law, a statutory claim is creat ed
t hereby against his property.2 But thou gh the property of the mi nor may be liable for the
necessaries under section 68 of the Contract Act, the minor himself is not personally liable as
in English Law.3 Section 68 will not apply wher e necessaries are supplied to a person or to
someone whom that person is bou nd to support when such person is competent to contract.4

^    . - Every person is compet ent to contract who is of the age of
majority according to the law to which he is subject,5 and who is of unsound mind and is not
disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subject.

S ection 10 stat es:

^         All agreement s are contracts if they are made by the free
cons ent of parties comp et ent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object,
and are not her eb y expressly declared to be void.

Nothing herein contained shall affect any law in force in 6[INDIA] and not hereby expr essly
repealed by which any contract is requir ed to be ma de in writing7 or in the presence of t he
witnesses, or any law relating to the registration of the docu ments.

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However, for the necessaries supplied to a minor reimbursement is permitted to t he person
supplying such necessaries. This is not on basis of any contract between the parties but
because it is deemed to be a quasi contractual ob ligation. Chapter V of t he Indian Contract
recognises ³Certain Relat ions Res embling t hose created by contract´, i.e., Quasi-Contractual
relations. Sec. 68 in that chapter makes a provision for t he reimburs ement for the necessaries
supplied to a minor. The provision is as under:

³If a person, incapable of entering into a contract, or anyone whom he is legally bound to
support, is supplied by anot her person with necessaries suited to his condition in life, t he
person who has furnished such supplies is entitled t o be rei mbursed from the prop erty of such
incapable person.´

T his section p er mits reimbursement if:

1.c Necessaries are supplied;


2.c T o a person who is incapable of making a contract, e.g., a minor or a lunatic; or
3.c T o a person who is dep endent upon such person incapable of making a contract;
4.c F or reimbursement no personal act ion can lie against the minor, etc., but
reimbursement is per mitted from the property of such incapable person.

Illtration8

a)c A supplies B, a lunatic, with necessaries suitable to his condition in life. A is entitl ed
t o b e reimbursed from B¶s prop erty.
b)c A supplied the wife and children of B, a lunatic, wit h necessaries suitable to their
condition in life. A is entitled t o be rei mbursed from B¶s prop erty.

English law also permits an action for the necessaries supplied to a minor (infant). According
t o section 1 of the Infant¶s Relief Act, 1874, all contracts ent ered into by infants for goods
supplied or to b e supplied (other t han contract for necessaries) shall be absolut ely void. It
mea ns that the infant is liable to pay for the necessaries supplied to him.

Regarding the necessaries supplied t o a p erson incomp etent to contract (English) Sale of
Goods Act, 1979 makes the following provision:

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Where t he necessaries are sold and delivered to a minor or to a person who by reason of
ment al capacity or drunkenness is incomp etent to contract, he must pay a reasonable price for
t hem.9 ³Necessaries´ here mea ns goods suitable to the condition in life of the minor or t he
other person concerned and to his actual requirements at the time of t he sale and delivery.10

T he basis of act ion is deemed to be a quasi-contractual obligation to pay rather than a


contract11 between the parties.

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CHAPTER II: WHAT ARE NECExx ARIEx

T her e is, however, no definition of the term ³necessaries´ in the Contract Act. It is ther efore
necessary to turn judicial decisions to decide its precise import. Now it was ruled by Baron

Parke in Î    
 that from the earliest times down to the pres ent, the word
µnecessaries¶ is not confined in it s strict sense to such articles as were necessary to support
life, but extended to articles fit to maintain t he particular person in the state, degr ee and
station i n life in which he is; and therefore we must not take the word ³necessaries´ in its
unqualified sens e but with qualifications as pointed out.13 To put the matt er concis ely,
³necessaries´ means goods suitable to the condition in life of the defenda nt and to his actual
requir ements at the time of the sale and delivery, and whet her an article supplied to an infant
is necessary or not, depends upon its general character and upon its suitability to t he
particular infant¶s means and station in life. It must further b e obs erved that as necessaries
include everything necessary to maintain the infant in the state, st ation or degree of life in
which he is, what is necessary is a relative fact, to be det er mined with reference to the fortune
and the circumstances of the particular infant; articles therefor e that to one person might be
mer e conveniences or matters of taste, may in the case of another be considered necessaries,
where the usages of society render them prop er for a person in the rank of life in which t he
infant moves. The infant¶s need of things may also sometimes depend upon the p eculiar
circumstances under which they are purchased and the use to which they are put. For
instance, articles purchased by an infant for his wedding may b e deemed necessary, whil e
under ordinary circumstances the same article might not be so considered. 14 The word
³necessaries´, therefore, includes money urgently needed for the requirements of the minors
such as food and clothing. 15 Thus cash lent t o him to effect necessary repairs in his hous e¶16
and payment of government revenu e17 are necessaries of the minor proprietor. In the case of a
minor Muslim girl, marriage is a ³necessity´ the person incurring expenditure for marriage is

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entitled to reli ef under section 68.18 A debt incurred by guardian for improving or devel oping
minor¶s estate is not binding on such estate. Money borrowed for its upkeep or its
preservat ion binds the estate.19

Expenses incurred for minor¶s education, marriage of his sister, exp ens es incurred in funeral
of Minor¶s parents, expenses incurred for necessary litigation et c. have been held to be
necessaries. Expens es incurred for mi nor¶s marriage have also been held to be,
µnecessaries¶.20

T he obligation to defray the exp ens es of marriages of sons and daughters is cast by the Hindu
law upon a father if there is any joint family property in his hands and not in ot her cases. A
wife who spends for the marriage of her mi nor daughter cannot recover the amount
personally from t he husband. Neither section 68 nor 69 and 70 will apply.21 Further the ter m
µnecessaries¶ is comprehensive and is not confined to necessaries of the person of the infant
hims elf but ext ends to necessaries provided for other members of his fa mily, e.g., sister¶s
marriage,22 but t he money spent cannot be recovered, unless it constitutes a debt and is not a
bounteous gift.23 As ³necessaries´ include everything necessary t o maintain an infant in t he
state, station, or degree of life in which he is, ³what is necessary´ is a relat ive fact to be
determined with the reference to the fortune and circu mstances of a particular infant.24 Wher e
t he guardian of a minor borrows money for the payment of the rent due to La mbardar, which
t he minor was bound to pay, the mi nor is liabl e under the transaction, as the guardian can do,
what the minor hims elf would do. 25 The house leas ed to a minor for living and cont inuing his
studies is for a necessity, suit ed to the conditions of the minor¶s.26

T he advancing of the funds to a male Hindu minor for meeting his own marriage expens es is
not supplying him with necessaries suited to his condition in life within the meani ng of
section 68 of t he Contract Act, and a person advancing such fu nds is not entitled to b e

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reimbursed from the prop ert y of such a minor. The Hindu law does not enjoin the marriage of
a Hindu male before the age of majority.27

CHAPTER III: NATURE OF LIABILITY

T her e are two theories relating to the liabilit y of a minor¶s estate for necessaries. According
t o one of the theories t he liability does not dep end upon the minor¶s cons ent. It arises because
t he necessaries have been supplied to him and is, therefore, quasi-contractual in nat ure. The
best statement of t his theory is that of FLETCHER MOULTON LJ in   

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In India the subject has been dealt with in the chapter on ³Certain Relations Res embling
T hose Created by Contract´. T he chapt er provides for obligations of quasi-contractual
nature.29Further the liability is not personal, but is only that of minor¶s estate. Thus it has a
very little contractual element.

T he other view of t he liability in England is that it is contractual. An infant is not absolutely


destitute of contractual capacity. A contract for necessaries is just one of thos e categories of
contracts which an infant is per mitted to make.30

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CHAPTER IV: CAx Ex AND CAxE LA W

Ther e are several landmark cases under this topic of Indian Contract Act as the ter m
µnecessaries¶ has not be defined under any section of the act so the t er m has b een
interpret ed according to the decided case laws. Some of the prominent cases and case
laws have been described in this chapter.

a)c V  V 




Introdtion:

T he liability is only for necessaries, but there is no defi nition of t he ter m ³necessaries´ in t he
act. We may consequently turn to judicial decisions to deter mine its precis e i mp ort. An
illustrative statement of the meaning of the term is to be found in the judgement of
ALDERSON B in this case.

Fat:

In this case an infant wi dow entered into a contract with another person in order to borrow
money for burial of her husband.

Jdg m nt:

T his judgement was given ALDERS ON B

³Things necessary are thos e without which an indivi dual cannot reasonably exist. In the first
place, raiment, lodging and the like. Ab out thes e there is no doubt. Again, as t he proper
cultivation of the mi nd is as exp edient as the support of the body, instruction in art or trade,
or the trade, or intellectual, moral and religious education may be necessary also.... Then t he
classes being established, the subject and ext ent of the contract may vary according to t he
state and the condition of the infant hims elf. His clothes may be fine or coarse according to
his rank; his education may vary according to the station he is to fill; and the medicines will
depend on illness with which he is afflicted, and the extent of his probable means when of
full age. . . .But in all these cases it must first be ma de out that the class itself is one in whi ch
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t he things furnished are essential to the existence and of reasonable advantage and comfort of
t he infant contractor. Thus articles of mere luxury are always exclu ded, though luxurious
articles of utility are in some cases allowed.´32

b)c Jogan ram Marwari v Mahad o Praad xah 

Introdtion:

What are necessari es may dep end upon the status of person, and also his requirement s at t he
time of actual delivery of t he goods. In Jagan Ram v. Mahadeo Prasad Sahu it was observed.

Fat:

This case was related t o the pres ents given to the bride of minor.

Jdg m nt:

In this case it was obs erved that

³Necessaries means goods suitable to the condition in life of the defendant and to his actual
requir ements at the time of the sale and delivery, and whet her an article supplied to an infant
is necessary or not, depends upon its general character and upon its suitability to t he
particular infant¶s status in life. It must furt her be observed that as µnecessaries¶ inclu de
everything necessary to maintain the infant in the state, station, or degree of life in which he
is, what is necessary is a relat ive fact, to be deter mi ned with reference to the fort une and
circumstances of the particular infant; articles therefor e that to one p erson might be mer e
convenience or matters of tast e, may in case of another be considered necessaries, wher e the
usage of society render them prop er for t he person in the rank of life in which the infant
moves.´

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)c P t r v Fl ming 

Introdtion:

In this case also the meaning of necessaries was det er mined as per the necessity of the
individual.

Fat:

Here in this case the head of dispute was an undergraduate student of college should have a
watch and that to a watch chain.

Jdg m nt:

³In Peter v. Fleming the court took judicial notice that it was pri ma facie not unreasonable
t hat an undergraduate at college should have a watch and consequently a watch chain; and
t hat therefore it was a qu estion of fact whet her the watch chain supplied on credit was such as
was necessary to support himself prop erly in his degree. P ARKE B says: µAll such articles as
are purely ornamental are to be rejected, as they cannot b e requisite for anyone.¶ P ossibly
t here may be exceptional cas es in which t hings purely orna mental may be necessary.´35 The
burden lies upon the supplier to prove that the ornamental t hing is especially necessary for
minor. Thus, wher e a minor was supplied a pair of jewelled solitaires and an antiqu e goblet
and t hough he moved in high society, he was held not liable as the plaintiff coul d not prove
t hat the articles were especially necessary for t he minor.36

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d)c Nah v Inman 

Introdtion:

Liabilities aris e because the necessaries have been supplied to minor, and are therefore,
quasi-contract ual in nature. The best statement of this theory is that of FLETCHER
MOULTON LJ in  


Fat:

In this case, a minor, who was already ha ving sufficient supply of clothing suitable to his
position, was supplied further clot hing by a tailor. Then the tailor claimed to recover the price
of clothing.

Jridition:

³An infant, like a lunatic, is incapable of making a contract of purchase in strict sens e of the
word; but if a man satisfies the needs of an infant or lunatic by supplying to him necessaries
t he law will imply on obligation to repay him for the services so rendered, and will enforce
t hat obligation against the estate of the infant or lunatic. The consequ ence is that basis of the
action is hardly contract. The real foundation is an obligation which t he law imposes on the
infant to ma ke a fair payment in report of needs satisfied. In other words, the obligation arises
re and not consensu.´

If the minor is already having sufficient supply of goods and does not need them any further,
further supplies will not be considered to be necessaries.

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CONCLUxION AND xUGGExTIO N

It has been already known that a minor¶s agreement is    , according to section 11
of Indian Contract Act, 1872.However, for t he necessaries supplied to a minor reimburs ement
is permitted to the p erson supplyi ng such necessaries. The Section 68 of the Indian Contract
Act provides for the liability for necessaries supplied to persons incompetent to contract. The
expression ³necessaries´ has no certain definition in Indian Contract Act. . It is not somet hing
definit e and certain. It is uncertain and fluctuating, varying with the changing economic
needs of minors. It is a variable thing, fluctuating with the circu mstances. The necessaries
supplied to minor ³should be suited to his condition in life´. It does not mean bare necessities
of life, but means such things as may be necessary to maintain a person according to his
condition in life. There are two relat ed theories, according to 1st liability does not depend
upon minor¶s consent. It arises because the necessaries have been supplied to him and is,
t herefore, quasi-contractual in nature.

T he ot her vi ew of the liability in England is that it is contractual. An infant is not absolutel y


destitute of contractual capacity. A contract for necessaries is just one of thos e categori es of
contracts which an infant is per mitted to make.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKx REFERRED:

1.c R.K.Bangia, Indian Contract Act, Allahabad Law Agency, Allahabad,


seventh ed. 1996,p.108-112..
2.c Avtar Singh, Law of Contract and Specific Relief, Eastern Book
Company, Lucknow, Ninth Ed., 2005,p.146-149.

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