Coercion, Undue Influence, and Unconscionability in Indian Contract Law

Swaminathan, Shivprasad (2022) Coercion, Undue Influence, and Unconscionability in Indian Contract Law. In: Invalidity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 127-144. ISBN 9780192859341

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This chapter explores the contours of the law relating to the doctrines of coercion, undue influence and unconscionability in Indian contract law. It argues that there is a double dissonance between the design of sections 15 (coercion) and 16 (undue influence), and the construction courts have placed upon these provisions. On the one hand, courts have sought to pack into the definition of coercion in section 15 (tied primarily to threats to commit criminal acts prohibited under the Indian Penal Code) more than it can plausibly encompass within its scope, with the result that their attempts at accommodating within the ambit of the provision, forms of illegitimate pressure like economic duress, come across as tenuous and contrived. And on the other, they have unduly constricted section 16 by neglecting to use its width and potential versatility to supplement attempts at overcoming a rigid and ossified definition of coercion in section 15. Section 16 was deliberately designed to be capacious enough to incorporate a general principle of unconscionability—enough, in fact, to have subsumed the doctrine of undue influence and economic duress within its ambit. But courts have refused to invoke it in cases of unconscionability and inequality of bargaining power where its invocation was warranted, as they have erroneously projected the narrower notion of undue influence as traditionally understood in English law onto the provision.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Coercion | Undue Influence | Unconscionability | Economic Duress | Inequality of Bargaining Power | Indian Contract Act | 1872
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 04:41
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2023 03:42
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