Skip to main content
unless the negative is proved "by the defence. Whereas by English law the
incapacity to commit a crime by a child between eight and fourteen years
is to be presumed until the contrary is proved.
In a case in which two Pasi boys of ten and twelve years respectively and one Pasi
girl of ten years were put on their trial on a charge of the murder of a Brahmin girl
of nine years by strangulation, the Sessions Judge of Sitapur held that the accused were
undoubtedly old enough to understand the nature and consequences of the act com-
mitted by them, but in view of their tender age and the fact that they were compelled by
hunger to resort to such a crime, he thought fit to exempt them from the extreme
penalty of law. He accordingly passed a sentence of transportation, but ordered them
to be sent to the Reformatory School.-8
A child under twelve years of age cannot give valid consent to suffer
any harm which may occur from an act done in good faith and for its benefit ;
while a person under eighteen years cannot give valid consent, whether
express or implied, to suffer any harm which may result from an act not
intended or not known to cause death or grievous hurt (sections 89 and 87?
LP.C., Appendix IV) .
2. Marriage Contract. — In India, there was no limit of age for contract-
ing marriage till the Child Marriage Restraint Act (Act XIX of 1929) came
into force on the first day of April 1930. This Act was further amended in
the year 1949, and is known as the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment)
Act (Act XLI of 1949) . According to this Act a girl under fifteen years of
age and a boy under eighteen years of age cannot contract marriage.
3. Kidnapping. — To constitute a crime of kidnapping or abducting a
child with the intention of taking dishonestly any moveable property from
its person the age of such child should be under ten years.29 To constitute
an offence of kidnapping or abducting a minor from lawful guardianship the
age of a boy should be under sixteen years and that of a girl under eighteen
years.30 To constitute an offence of procuring a minor girl for illicit inter-
course or of selling or buying a minor girl for purpose of prostitution her
age should be under eighteen years.31 An accused person can be indicted
for importing into India from a foreign country a girl for purposes of illicit
intercourse, if she happens to be under twenty-one years of age.32
4. Rape. — Sexual intercourse by a man with a girl under fifteen years
of age even if she be his own wife or with any other girl under sixteen years
of age even with her consent constitutes rape (section 375, I.P.C., as amended
by India Act XLII of 1949, vide Appendix IV). According to the law of
England a boy under fourteen years of age is presumed to be incapable of
committing rape. In India, there is no such limit of age at which a person
may be presumed to be physically incapable of committing rape, but the
court is guided in this respect by sections 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code.
5. Attainment of Majority. — Under the Indian Majority Act (Act IX of
1875) a person is deemed to have attained his majority on the completion
of eighteen years, when he assumes full civil rights and responsibilities,
Where a minor is under the guardianship of the Court of Wards, or is under
a guardian appointed by court, he is not deemed to attain his majority until
he is twenty-one years of age. A minor is incapable of selling his property,
making a valid will or serving on a jury.
Under the Bombay Prevention of Hindu Bigamous Marriages Act, 1946,
a minor means any person who is under sixteen years of age.
6. Competency as a Witness. — There is no fixed limit of age at which
may or may not give evidence in a court of law. According to
28. Leader, April 30, 1927.
29. Appendix IV, Section 369, Indian Penal Code.
30. Appendix IV, Sections 361 to 366, Indian Penal Code.
31. Appendix IV, Sections 366-A, 372 and 373, Indian Penal Code.
32. Appendix IV, Section 366-B, Indian Penal Code.