Under the well-known ruling of Privy Council in Mohari Bibi v. Dharmodas Ghose, it is now settled that as minor cannot be bound by a contract , a minor’s contract being void and not merely voidable. A minor, therefore, cannot become as partners in a firm, because partnership is founded on contract. Though a minor, however can not be a partner in a firm, he can as sec. 30 puts it, “be admitted to the benefits of a partnership”, that is he can be validly given a share in the partnership profits. When this has been done and it can be done only with the consent of all the partners, the rights and liabilities of such minor are defined by sec. 30 as follows:
Rights and liabilities of minor partners :
(i) He has a right to share in the property and profits of the firm, according to his share as agreed upon between the partners.
(ii) He is entitled to have access to inspect and take copies of the accounts of the firm. Notice that apparently as minor is entitled to take inspection of or copies of the books of the account of the firm.
(iii) His agreed share in the property and profits of the firm is liable for the acts of the firm, though the minor personally or his personal or separate property is not so liable.
(iv) He has no right while he continues to be a member to file a suit against the other partners for accounts or for payment of his share in the profits or the property of the firm.
(v) He can only do so, when he wants to sever his connection with the firm.
(vi) In such a suit for serving his connection with the firm, his share will be determined by valuation according to the principles laid down in sec. 48 for taking accounts of a dissolved partnership.
(vii) In such a suit however, the other partners, or the partner entitled by agreement to dissolve the partnership by notice, may elect to treat the suit as one for as general dissolution and in such as case, the minor’s share shall be determined in the same manner as the shares of the partners are determined on taking general partnership accounts.
(viii) Within 6 months of his attaining majority or of his knowing that he has been admitted into the partnership which ever is latter, the minor must give public notice, as defined by sec. 72, notifying whether he has elected to become or not to become as partner. If he fails to give such notice, he shall be deemed to have elected to become a partner.
Further, if the minor relies on absence of knowledge of his being partner till after 6 months of his majority, the burden of proving such fact is only the minor. Public notice here means as notice to the Registrar, in case of as registered firm, as notice in the local Official Gazette and in one vernacular newspaper circulating in the district where the principal office of the firm is situate (sec.72).
(ix) where the minor elects to become a partner (a) his rights and liabilities as between the partners continue the same till such date, but (b) as regards third persons, he becomes liable for all acts of the firm, from the time he was admitted into the partnership (and not only from the date he attained his majority or made his election) and (c) his share in the profits and property of the firm shall remain the same, as it was, when he was a minor.
(x) If the minor elects not to become a partner, (a) his rights and liabilities, as between the partners, shall continue the same as before till the date of notice; (b) his share shall not be liable for the acts of firm after date of the notice; and (c) he will be entitled to sue his partners for accounts and for payments of his share as mentioned above.