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AIR 1928 Lah 609
DATE OF JUDGMENTApril 2nd, 1928
COURTLahore High Court
BENCHSir Shadi Lal C.J,Justice Broadway,Justice Harrison,Justice Tek Chand

In the landmark case of Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh, the Lahore High Court grappled with significant legal questions concerning the capacity of a minor to enter into contracts and the applicability of estoppel in such situations. 

The dispute arose from the sale of property, where Appellant (Khan Gul), a minor, allegedly misrepresented his age during the transaction. The Respondent sought possession of the property or monetary compensation. 

The pivotal issues included whether a minor inducing a contract through false representation is estopped and the equitable principles of restitution.

The judgment, rendered by Sir Shadi Lal, Chief Justice, set important legal precedents by affirming that the doctrine of estoppel does not apply to minors and that, despite Section 115 of the Evidence Act, a transaction entered into by a minor is void under the Contract Act. 

The court, departing from English law, invoked equitable principles, allowing for the restitution of ill-gotten gains by the minor. This decision underscored the protective nature of the law towards minors, establishing a crucial precedent in Indian jurisprudence concerning contracts involving individuals of diminished capacity.


– Defendant 1, Khan Gul, sold a property to the plaintiffs for Rs. 17,500.

Payment included Rs. 8,000 in cash and a Rs. 9,500 promissory note.

– Plaintiffs claimed full payment, stating the promissory note was discharged.

– Defendant 1, after receiving payment, refused to deliver property possession.

– Plaintiffs sought possession or a decree of Rs. 19,000, including damages.

– Defendant 1 pleaded minority, and Defendant 2 (wife) claimed a prior gift.

– Trial court decreed in favour of plaintiffs, citing estoppel due to false representation of age by Defendant 1.

– Full Bench considered whether a minor, inducing a contract through false representation, is estopped and addressed restitution.

– Defendant files appeal in Lahore High Court.


The case revolved around two key issues:

  • Does the doctrine of estoppel extend to minors?
  • Can the defendant both decline to fulfill their contractual obligations and retain the benefits (consideration) they have received?

The contentions made by the appellant (Khan Gul) to support his case include : 

– The appellant argues that there is no evidence to suggest that the respondents were deceived by any misrepresentation on his part.

– The appellant emphasizes that he disclosed his age of 19 at the time of registration, and the respondents were aware of this fact.

– The appellant presents Fakir Muhammad’s testimony, indicating that the respondents, particularly Lakha Singh, instructed him to state his age as 19 during registration.

– The appellant highlights his consistent representation as a 19-year-old in previous transactions, suggesting a pattern and awareness on the part of the respondents.

– The appellant contends that there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating that the respondents were misled about his age.

Overall, the appellant aims to establish that the misrepresentation of his age did not play a decisive role in the transaction, and the respondents were not deceived or unaware of the relevant details.


Contentions of the respondent (Lakha Singh) in the case include:

Appellant (Khan Gul) made a false representation by stating his age as 19 during the property registration.

– Fakir Muhammad’s testimony supports the claim that the appellant was advised to state his age as 19 during registration.

– There is doubt about the appellant’s actual age, and the respondents were not in a position to know the true age.

– The appellant admitted stating he was 19 before the Sub-Registrar based on his cousin Muhammad Hussain’s request.

– The appellant previously obtained a medical certificate showing he was over 19, further supporting the claim of misrepresentation.

– Overall, the respondent argues that the appellant’s misrepresentation about his age was a crucial factor in the transaction.


In the case of Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh, the court rendered a judgment, drawing on the precedent set by the Privy Council’s decision in Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose. The pivotal question before the court was whether the doctrine of estoppel could be applied to minors in the context of contracts.

The court, considering the historical uncertainty surrounding a minor’s contractual competence, unequivocally asserted that a person legally incompetent due to infancy, as defined in Section 11 of the Contract Act, cannot validly enter into a contract. The court emphasized that the law of estoppel, a universal principle, should not be misapplied to contracts involving minors, as it conflicts with the specific legislative intent to protect minors under Section 11.

Analysing the principle of equity, the court observed that while infants are not held accountable under the contract, their fraudulent misrepresentation of age can trigger equitable responsibility. Referring to the Doctrine of Restitution, the court held that, in such cases, parties may be restored to their pre-contractual positions.

In light of these considerations, the court in Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh concluded that applying the doctrine of estoppel to minors would result in absurdity and injustice. Citing Jenning v. Rundall, the court emphasized the protective nature of laws for minors, wielding them as shields rather than swords. The judgment, aligned with the principles laid out in Mohori Bibee, underscored the restoration of both parties to their original status before the contract, ensuring fairness and justice in the absence of a valid contract.


The case of Khan Gul v. Lakha Singh is a landmark decision that addressed crucial legal questions surrounding the capacity of minors to enter into contracts and the applicability of estoppel. In this case, Defendant 1, a minor, allegedly misrepresented his age during a property transaction, leading to a dispute with the plaintiffs. The Lahore High Court, led by Chief Justice Sir Shadi Lal, clarified that the doctrine of estoppel does not bind minors, and a transaction entered into by a minor is void as per Section 11 of the Contract Act.

The case holds historical importance as it departed from English law, establishing a distinct legal framework that prioritizes the protection of minors in contractual dealings. By affirming the voidness of transactions involving minors and invoking equitable principles of restitution, the court set a significant precedent, shaping the legal landscape concerning contracts with individuals of diminished capacity.

This decision continues to hold relevance today, emphasizing the need for a protective legal approach toward minors. It underscores the importance of Section 11 of the Contract Act in defining the incapacity of minors to enter into contracts, contributing to the evolution of contract law and safeguarding the rights of vulnerable parties in contractual relationships. 


In conclusion, the Lahore High Court, under the leadership of Sir Shadi Lal, C.J., decisively established that the doctrine of estoppel does not bind minors, affirming the voidness of transactions involving minors under the Contract Act. The court’s departure from English law showcased a nuanced application of equitable principles, allowing for the restitution of gains acquired by the minor. This verdict underscored a protective stance towards minors, ensuring fairness and justice in legal proceedings. The judgment’s prudent interpretation of statutes and equitable doctrines solidified its significance in shaping legal perspectives on contracts involving individuals with diminished capacity.


This Article is written by Khushi Bhasin, student of Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law, Mumbai; Intern at Legal Vidhiya.

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