The Indian Majority Act, 1875 specifies the age of majority in India. The Act states that the age of the majority in India is “18 years,” and any individual living in India who is below the age of 18 years is a minor. Minors cannot enter into contracts until and unless their guardians enter into contracts on their behalf. Let us find out how one gets permission to sell a minor’s property.
Can a Guardian Sell Property?
Section 8 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 identifies the powers of a natural guardian or legal guardian. Clause (1) states that the natural guardian has all the power to do any act necessary, or reasonable, or proper in the eyes of the law for the sole purpose of such an Act is beneficial to the minor that it shall protect the minor or minor’s estate.
Therefore, it is clear from the above provision that a natural guardian can sell the minor’s property (the Act) for the sole purpose of benefiting the minor.
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Can a Guardian Sell Minor’s Property?
The Supreme Court in Saroj v. Sunder Singh & Ors. held that a guardian cannot sell a minor’s share in the property without the permission of the appropriate Court. Furthermore, section 8(2) of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 states that minors’ immovable property cannot be mortgaged, charged, or transferred by sale, gift, exchange, or in any other mode without the previous permission of the Court.
Further, Section 8(3) states that if any natural guardian disposes of any immovable property in contravention to clause (2) of Section 8, then such a sale would be voidable at the option of the minor. However, the said minor can challenge such a sale only within the limitation period, which shall begin running against them after they attain the majority.
Further, suppose a minor, after attaining majority, wishes to set aside the sale deed as such property belonged to the minor. In that case, such a suit must be filed within the limitation period prescribed under Article 60 of the Limitation Act, i.e, 3 years after attaining majority.
Can a Minor Purchase Property?
For a minor to purchase property in India, he or she must enter into a valid contract of purchase and sale of such property. This agreement is known as an ‘Agreement of Sale’. Every agreement shall be a valid contract in India if it fulfils the criteria under Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Further, Section 11 highlights competent to be a valid party in any valid contract in India.
Section 11 states that every person of the age of majority will be competent to enter into a contract if they are not barred by other conditions mentioned in the section. Therefore, a minor, i.e, anyone who is not of the age of majority (18 years), will not be competent to enter into a contract. Any agreement entered into by a minor will be void ab initio (void from the beginning) the eyes of the law.
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The provisions under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, especially section 6 and 7 of the Act do not bar a minor from contracting. However, from the conjoint reading of the above two Acts, it can be deduced that a minor can be a valid transferee and receive property.
A minor can acquire property through the hands of either his/her natural guardian (mother or father) or through a guardian appointed by the appropriate Court in the absence of such natural guardian. In such a case of acquisition, the purchase of property would be valid.
After valid purchase, the natural guardian can register the property in the name of the minor under Section 35 of the Registration Act, 1908. However, the execution of such registration shall take place before the appropriate Court’s permission after satisfaction that the property acquired was legal and valid.
A minor can acquire a property by way of gift also. Here, there is no need for the intervention of the law, Court, or guardians of the minor. The reason for the same being that in case of a gift, acceptance by the donee is the only required to make it effective.
Lastly, a minor can acquire property using inheritance, be it intestate or by way of a will. In case of ancestral property of a Joint Hindu Family, the minor (both son and daughter, since 2005) will receive an equal share in the capacity of a coparcener after the death of the last holder of the property.
Hence, a minor, though not competent to enter into a contract can sell property through his guardians. A minor can also receive property through the means listed out above.