In colonial India during the late 19th century, the case of Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose emerged as a pivotal legal dispute concerning contracts involving minors. The case centered around Dharmodas Ghose, a minor, who mortgaged his property to Brahmo Dutt. Subsequently, Dutt transferred the mortgage to Mohori Bibee, who then initiated legal proceedings against Ghose for possession of the property.

Legal Issue

The core legal issue in the Mohori Bibee case revolved around the enforceability of contracts entered into by minors. Specifically, the question at hand was whether a contract involving a minor could be considered void or merely voidable.

Historical Context

During the colonial era, India inherited its legal system from British jurisprudence. The Indian Contract Act of 1872, based on English common law principles, provided the framework for contractual obligations in India. However, certain adaptations were made to suit the socio-economic and cultural context of the Indian subcontinent.

Contract Law and Minors

Under Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act, for a contract to be valid, parties must have the legal capacity to contract. However, Section 11 states that a minor lacks the capacity to contract, rendering contracts entered into by minors potentially voidable at their option. The legal question in the Mohori Bibee case delved into whether this voidability extended to the contracts being wholly void, thus incapable of enforcement against the minor.

Legal Arguments

Mohori Bibee contended that the contract with Ghose was valid and enforceable, as it had been duly executed and registered. Conversely, Ghose argued that being a minor at the time of entering the contract, he lacked the legal capacity, rendering the contract void and unenforceable against him.

Judicial Proceedings

The case underwent adjudication in the Calcutta High Court, which ruled in favor of Mohori Bibee, asserting the contract’s enforceability. However, the matter was escalated to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for colonial India.


In its landmark judgment, the Privy Council reversed the decision of the Calcutta High Court, ruling in favor of Dharmodas Ghose. The council held that contracts entered into by minors were not merely voidable but void ab initio, meaning void from the outset and incapable of enforcement against the minor party.

Legal Reasoning

The Privy Council grounded its decision on a strict interpretation of the Indian Contract Act. Section 2(g) of the Act defined a minor as an individual who had not attained the age of majority. By virtue of this provision, minors were deemed legally incompetent to contract. Therefore, any contract entered into by a minor lacked legal force and was void from its inception.

Policy Considerations

The court’s decision was underpinned by policy considerations aimed at protecting minors from exploitation and safeguarding their legal rights. Recognizing the inherent vulnerability and immaturity of minors, the court emphasized the need for stringent safeguards to prevent their exploitation in contractual dealings.


The Mohori Bibee case assumed monumental significance within the realm of Indian contract law, establishing a precedent that contracts involving minors were void and unenforceable against them. This ruling fundamentally altered the legal landscape, emphasizing the paramount importance of protecting minors from entering into contracts that could potentially harm their interests.


The ramifications of the Mohori Bibee case reverberated throughout Indian jurisprudence, influencing the interpretation and application of contract law concerning minors. The case set a clear precedent that contracts entered into by minors were void ab initio, providing a robust legal framework to safeguard their interests.

Legal Precedent

The judgment in the Mohori Bibee case became a cornerstone precedent in Indian contract law, guiding subsequent judicial decisions and legislative reforms. Courts consistently upheld the principle that contracts involving minors were void and unenforceable, reflecting a commitment to protecting the legal rights of minors.

Legislative Implications

The Mohori Bibee case spurred legislative reforms aimed at fortifying the legal protections afforded to minors in contractual transactions. Subsequent amendments to the Indian Contract Act and related legislation underscored the need to uphold the principle of voidability for contracts involving minors.

Social and Economic Impact

Beyond its legal implications, the Mohori Bibee case had far-reaching social and economic consequences. It instilled confidence in contractual dealings by clarifying the legal rights and obligations of parties, thereby fostering a conducive environment for commerce and trade.


In conclusion, the Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose case stands as a landmark decision in Indian contract law, elucidating the legal status of contracts involving minors. The Privy Council’s ruling that such contracts are void ab initio underscored the imperative of protecting minors from exploitation and ensuring the integrity of contractual relations. This seminal judgment continues to shape legal discourse and policy frameworks, reaffirming the foundational principles of fairness, equity, and justice in contractual transactions.



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