What is a Sound Mind for the Purposes of Contracting

The ability to mentally comprehend in a general way the nature and extent of the property to be disposed of, the testator's relationship to those who would naturally claim a substantial benefit from the will, as well as a general understanding of the practical effect of the will as executed, is referred to as being of sound mind.

Person of Unsound Mind

Every person who is of legal age, according to the law to which he is subject, of sound mind, and who is not barred from contracting by any legislation to which he is subject is competent to do so. A person of unsound mind is not competent to contract, according to Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act of 1872.

On the other hand, a person of unsound mind may not enter into a contract under the law if they can convince the court that they were unable to understand it and that the other party was aware of this inability. So, he can declare the agreement void.

Moreover, an agreement made by a person who is not of sound mind is null and void, although he may nevertheless benefit from it. Additionally, an insane person's property is always liable for any supplies given to him or anybody else he is legally obligated to support.

Who is a Sound Mind for Purpose of the Contract?

According to Section 12 of the Indian Contract Act of 1872, a person must be of sound mind, fully grasp the terms and conditions of the contract, and be able to assess how they will affect his interests.

In this case, a person who is frequently of unsound mind and occasionally of sound mind is considered to be a party to the agreement. But in this instance, he must be completely sound before signing the contract. According to the meaning of the capacity law, a contract made by a person who lacks ability is void. Any form of intoxication is deemed to render a person incapable of entering into a contract. Only when these people are sober and fully comprehend the conditions of the contract are they able to enter into a deal.

According to this provision, the party making the contract must be a mature adult who is capable of making an informed decision about whether what they are about to undertake is in their best interests. Therefore, the key question is whether he is concluding the contract after having read it, understood it, and made the decision to do so after making a reasoned assessment of his interests. It does not imply that the man must be insane in order for him to be unable to enter into a contract. Even if a person may appear to be acting normally, he or she may be unable to decide for himself whether the action they are about to take is in their best interests.

To put it another way, someone who is "sound of mind" may understand the conditions of the contract and consciously decide to sign it. This condition aids in ensuring that parties enter into contracts voluntarily and are aware of the responsibilities they are taking on.

A person who lacks a "sound mind" cannot enter into a contract, on the other hand. Contracts signed by people who are not "sound of mind" may be deemed voidable, which means that the party who wasn't "sound of mind" can choose to uphold or cancel the agreement.

It is crucial to remember that "sound mind" can mean different things depending on the jurisdiction and the particulars of each case. A person may occasionally be deemed to be of "sound mind" for some purposes but not for others.

Landmark Case Law

In Ram Narain Gupta v. Rameshwari Gupta, AIR 1988 SC 2260, the Supreme Court ruled that the wife's schizophrenia could not be used as evidence that she was insane. It was noted that the petitioner had a legitimate expectation of residing with the respondent. In Ram Narain Gupta v. Smt. Rameshwari Gupta, AIR 1988 SC 2260, it was decided that the context in which the ideas of unsoundness of "mind" and "mental disorder" occur in the section as grounds for dissolution of a marriage, require the assessment of the degree of the "mental-disorder." Its severity must be such that it is unreasonable to expect the spouse requesting relief to cohabitate with the other.

Not all mental disorders are accepted as justification for granting a decree. Few marriages would actually last in law if the mere existence of any level of mental illness could excuse the dissolution of a marriage.

On whom does the burden of proof lie?

The initial assumption is always in favor of sanity, but whether it existed or not at the time the contract was made is always a matter of fact. The burden of establishing that a person was of sound mind at the time in a situation when they are often not is on the individual making the affirmation. In contrast, in situations where a person is typically in a sound state of mind, the onus of showing that he was not on the party contesting the legality of the contract.

However, in cases of intoxication or other causes, it is the burden of the party asserting the disability to establish that it existed at the time of the contract. It must be established that the party asserting the disability was so intoxicated as to be unable to understand the meaning and consequences of an agreement, and under English law, it must also be established that the other party was aware of his condition.


For a valid contract, it is essential requirement that both the parties who are intended to make a contract must be major (adult) and of sound mind. An unsound mind cannot make a contract; any contract made of a person of unsound mind is void ab initio. However, if other party prove it that the person claiming of unsound mind only for the purpose to void it and actually he was of sound mind while making the contract, then the contract will be valid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Can a person who is usually of unsound mind, but occasionally of sound mind, make a contract?

Ans. Yes, a person who is frequently of unsound mind but occasionally of sound mind is permitted to enter into a contract as long as he is in a position to understand its terms and circumstances and is in a sound mental state at the time.

Q2. Mr. Raj, who is actually of a sound state of mind, but occasionally of an unsound state of mind, enters into a contract with Mr. Prakash when he was of an unsound state of mind. Can Mr. Raj enter into a contract?

Ans. M. Raj can enter into a contract, but the burden is on Mr. Raj to prove that he was in an unsound state of mind at the time of the contract.

Q3. How do you prove unsound mind in Court?

Ans. Usually, any person cannot prove that a person is mentally ill or incapable; only the designated authority under the law may claim that but with the support of a medical expert.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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