Agreements contingent on the future conduct of a living person

Forums The Indian Contract Act, 1872 Agreements contingent on the future conduct of a living person

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  • #4141
    manishka_seal
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    Section 34 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 states that the event on which the contract is contingent is to be deemed impossible if it is the future conduct of a living person.

    Question: X agrees to pay Y a sum of money if Y marries Z. Z marries F. Y is unaware of the marriage, and Z, taking advantage of the fact, marries Y. Is X legally bound to pay the agreed sum?

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    • #4142
      manishka_seal
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      In the given case, a contract exists between X and Y that X will pay a certain sum of money to Y if Y marries Z. Z happens to marry F. Y is not aware of the marriage between Z and F. Taking advantage of Y’s ignorance, Z also marries Y. Let us consider this situation from two perspectives: Section 34 of Contingent contracts under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and Section 494 (Bigamy) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
      i) When Z marries Y, Z is committing bigamy, which is an offence under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of it taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Hence, the marriage between Z and Y is also void, because it took place during the life of Z’s wife, F, as per the provision laid down in Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Their marriage, thus, holds no validity in the eyes of law. Section 2(g) of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 defines a void contract as “an agreement not enforceable by law”.
      ii) Section 34 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 states that if the future event on which the contract is contingent is the way in which a person will act at an unspecified time, the event shall be considered to become impossible when such person does anything which renders it impossible that he should so act within any definite time or otherwise than under further contingencies. At that point of time of Z’s marriage with F, the contract becomes void because Z’s action of marrying F renders the impossibility of the event of Z’s marriage with Y. Thus, the marriage of Y with Z must be considered impossible at the time Z marries F.
      Given these two perspectives, X is not legally bound to pay the agreed sum to Y.

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