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How to deal with Minor? Is it a minor issue.
Who is a Minor under various acts?
As per contract act a person who is under the age of eighteen is a Minor who can enter into a contract if it gives some benefit to the minor and does not bind the minor to bear any obligation. By entering into an agreement a minor can bind all other parties except himself.
As per Child Marriage Restraint Act, a male below the age of 21 years and a female below the age of 18 years are not competent to contract a marriage.
As per Transfer of Property Act and India Succession Act, a minor can hold property in his/her name though is not competent to deal with the property. Any agreement with the minor under the Transfer of Property act is null and void abinitio.
If a legal guardian is appointed by a court of law then the age of majority is extended from 18 years to 21 years. As such marriage laws and majority laws to deal with the property of the minors provide protection to the minors up to the age of 21 years.
Explanation: If a person after attaining the age of 18 years purchases a property and deals with the property purchased by him/her after attaining majority then he/she can deal with the property himself/herself.
As per Indian Penal Code for a child, who has not attained sufficient understanding and maturity to judge the nature and consequence of his/her conduct at a particular occasion, nothing is an offense up to the age of 7 years and the child has total immunity from criminal responsibility. From 7 to 12 years, the liability depends upon capacity to understand and from 12-18 years, though the liability is not conditional, Juvenile Justice Act provides for the care and protection of the minor child.
Generally, all over the world, adults are eligible to caste their votes. In India, persons with an age over 18 years, before 1989 the prescribed age was 21 years, are eligible to caste their vote in elections. Still in some countries the voting age is above 21 years.
In advanced countries like USA there is a provision for emancipation where Minors can seek freedom from controls of guardians or parents before they attain majority subject to certain restrictions.
Facebook can not be used by minors under the age of 13 years. But I think there is no provision for the FB to verify the age of the users as FB asks its users to provide real name without any false information. Onus of proving the correctness of the information lies on the user.
As per contract act a minor can bind all other parties except himself. I throw the following debate open through comments by learned, experienced and intelligent hubbers at HP across the globe especially from advanced countries like USA and UK:
On the web we see so many commercial websites owned by big corporate and small entities. While dealing with such websites how can one come to know that the site might be owned by a Minor or Group of Minors as in today’s modern world there are intelligent and smart minors who know the intricacies of the web more than their audiences. If such minors indulge into nefarious or illegal activities then I think no one can recover financial losses from a minor or group of minors. There is a strong need for verification of real name, date of birth address and real identities of all the persons who get their Domain Name Registered. DNS provides must prompt the individuals and legal entities to upload their verifiable proofs of identity along with their registration as a separate legal entity otherwise it is feared that the virtual world will become a source of unending legal battle and cheating ground.
Minors need to be adjudged Minors by Age or Brain?
Date of birth or age should not be the criteria for deciding if the person is a minor or a major. Even a minor can have more sharp mind than the major and major can have undeveloped brain, behaving like a child. The national governments should make arrangements to get the IQ level tested every five years to certify any person as adult or minor. Such arrangements can be made in schools, colleges, workplaces so that no legal minor gets protection of minority simply because of date of birth or age. Just think of a situation in which the minor with date of of birth as 01/01/1995 becomes major on 01/01/2013 after attaining age of 18 years and if the same person committing a crime before midnight of 31/12/2012 will be dealt as minor in law and there is no logic that with the clock ringing 24.00 hrs. at midnight will make all the difference. The author calls upon the readers and legal institutions to come up with their views on this burning issue.
Transitional Phase for Minors
Let the minors neither become majors at the age of 18 nor at the age of 21 at the strike of the midnight hour when the minor will jump over to majority within a fraction of a second. Majority or maturity does not come overnight and it is a long process. Let the minors remain minors up to the age of say 12 or 13 years and become majors at the age of 18 to 21 years according to the law of the land. Such minors within the age group of 13 to 18 or 12 to 18, 13 to 21 be kept under transitional phase. The minors should be asked to give them the status of majors at their will and to declare them major before the age of majority let them pass through written and oral tests followed by medical tests and interview. While the willing minors be given the status of majors the remaining minors should be asked to submit a declaration to not to do any illegal acts so as to retain them the status of a Minor. Willingness option should be allowed to be exercise once every calender year. Such steps will make the Minors to become responsible members of the society even without becoming majors or matures.
Definition of Minor needs to be changed with Changing times
I think that the very definition of "Minor" needs to be changed with the changing times. Just watch the YouTube Video on the right about Internet Baby Commercial. Can the kid be considered a minor while looking towards the age of the brain of the internet baby or future baby. What I mean to stress upon through this video that minors by age may be major by brain and vice versa. Some children may become mature or majorat 14 years of age while others may remain minors even at the age of 21 in case their brain or mind is not fully developed. Now let us take the case of Indian Daughter, Nirbhaya - the infamous Delhi gang rape case. As per newspaper and online news the juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case may walk free on December 20,1015 unless the Delhi high court intervenes in support of concerns by the Central Government of India. Public opinion also supports the concerns of the Central Government. Here also the point involved is that the convict, who was minor aged about 17 years at the time of heinous crime, was mentally mature for having committed the gang rape and murder. The gang rape case generated discussion in India to change the law to lower the age of minority from 18 years to 13 years as in case of other developed and advanced countries. I also agree that real culprits who commit crimes in the guise of minors should not go scot free only because of the reason that law protects the rights of the minors. It would be better to reduce the age of minor from 18 to 13 years across the globe uniformly with the tagging that everyone who crosses the age of 13 years will have to undergo medical and psychological tests every year to decide if he or she has attained majority or not as per the age of his or her mind. Such certificates of majority may be issued by authorised institutions annually and be made valid for one year on calendar year basis for the rest of the life in digital form to be linked with Aadhaar ID (in India) or say Social Security Number ( in United States). If you agree or disagree, then write your views on this burning topic in the comments below.
© 2013 Ashok Goyal