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Undue influence

Undue influence, sometimes also called moral coercion means dominating the will of the other person to obtain an unfair advantages over the other. This happens when a special kind of relationship exists between the parties such that one party is in a position to exercise undue influence over the other.


Section 16(1) defines, “A contract is said to be induced by undue influence:

Where the relations subsisting between the parties are such that one of the parties is in a position to dominated the will of the other and,

The dominant party uses that position to obtain an unfair advantage over the other.

According to section 16(2), a person is deemed to be in the position to dominate the will of another in the following circumstances:

Where he holds the real or apparent authority over the other-parent and child, income tax officer and the assessee.

Where the stands in the fiduciary relation (trust and confidence) to the other: solicitor and client, spiritual adviser and his disciples, finance and finance.

Where he makes a contract with the persons whose mental capacity is temporarily or permanently affected by reason of age, illness or mental or bodily stress.

Presumption Of Undue Influence

The following relationship usually raise a presumption of undue influence; parent and child, guardian and ward, trustee and beneficiary, religious advisor and disciple, doctor and patient, master and servant, solicitor and client, finance and fiancée. However, there is no presumption of undue influence in the relationship of:
  • Landlord
  • Creditor and debtor
  • Husband and wife: however, it applies only if the wife is not pardanashin.

Effects Of Undue Influence

An agreement caused by undue influence is voidable at the option of the party whose consent was so obtained.


Such contract may be set aside either absolutely or if the party who is so entitled to avoid it has received any benefit there under, upon such terms and conditions as the court may seem just and equitable.

Burden Of Proof

To avoid a contract on the ground of undue influence, the plaintiff has to establish that:

The other party was in a position to dominate his will. Mere proof of nearness of relationship is not sufficient for the court to assume that one relation was in the position to dominate the will of the other.

The other party actually used his influenced to obtain the plaintiff’s consent to the contract; and

The transaction is unconscionable (unreasonable).

In case of unconscionable transaction, the dominant party has to prove that such contract was not induced by undue influence.

Unconscionable Transaction 

When a person who is in a dominant position to make an unreasonable use of his superior power and enters into a bargain which is so much to his own advantages that it’ shocks the conscience’ or makes an exorbitant profit of the others distress, the transaction is said to be unconscionable.

Rebutting The Presumption Of Undue Influence

 The presumption of undue influence can be rebutted by showing that


The dominant party has made the full disclosure of facts to the other party before making the contract.

The price was adequate.

The weaker party was in receipt of independent advice, before making the promise.

Contracts With Pardanashin Women

A contract with pardanashin woman is presumed to have been induced by undue influence. A pardanashin woman is one who observes complete seclusion because of the custom of the particular. Community to which she belongs. Any person who enters into a contract with a pardanashin woman has to prove that no undue influence was used and:


That the deed was executed actually by her with full understanding of what she was about to do,

That she had full knowledge of the nature and effect of the transaction in which she is said to have entered.

She had independent and disinterested advice in the matter.

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