Legal Analysis of Pardanashin Women

Abstract

People, in general, exploit the weaker section of the society, the one who possess no knowledge of the law and try to enrich them. In this article we are going to talk about the Pardanashin women, their legal rights under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and various case law to understand the status of Pardanashin women

Introduction

Pardanashin women are one who lives in seclusion having no commission except behind the parda or screen with any male person except a few privileged relations. She has not much intercourse with the outside world. Law provides special protection to pardanashin women on the grounds of their being ignorant so far as the worldly knowledge goes. A contract with a pardanashin woman is presumed to have been induced by undue influence

A Pardanashin woman is one who observes complete reclusion because of the custom of the particular community to which she belongs. The parda system was considered to be the benchmark of the Indian women in the 19th century. It was practised both in Hindu and Muslim community. It was considered to be a gesture to pay homage to the elders.

Due to these custom, women were completely dependent on the male community; because of this they face several issues in day to day life

  • They don’t have the privilege to develop their own views
  • They don’t interact with the outside world, so they remain inexperienced and unaware of the contemporary world
  • They can’t take their own decision, as they have been dominated by the males of the family 
  • They remain illiterate, so they can be fooled easily as they don’t possess the ability to analyze the situation from various angles
  • They are vulnerable and can easily be induced in a contract

Because of the above-stated reasons, all the affair of the pardanashin women is managed by their husband or other family members in order to protect them from exploitation

In Satish Chandra v. Kali Dasi[1]it has been said that a woman of rank who lives in isolation shut down in the Zenana, having no contact with any male except behind the parda or screen, except a few close relationships

Paradhasian Women and Indian Contract Act

Contract in India is governed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872. We enter into contact in our day to day life form buying groceries to buying an apartment. We intentionally or unintentionally enter into a contract with the outside world. For entering into a contract certain requirements are needed to be fulfilled, that is understanding the terms and condition of the contract, to comprehend the outcome by entering into a contract, to consider their stakes in the contract.

Why is a Pardhasian Women incompetent to enter into a Contract?

A paradi woman is considered to be incompetent to enter into a contract even though the satisfied the above-mentioned condition

In the case- Ashok Kumar and Anr. v. Gaon Sabha, Ratauli And Ors[2]it has been observed as

Not only because of parda itself, the law throws its protection around a pardanashin lady, but because of the hoe impairments to which the life of a group of people living in seclusion gives rise to the disabilities and from which a pardanashin lady suffers.

A pardanashin woman can be easily manipulated by someone because of her limitations and incapacity to recognize the terms of a contract. She may be forced to sign a contract which is not in her favour. Anybody can use their disabilities against her to their own benefit.

The legislature recognized the issue and saw a need to protect pardanashin women. They did so by offering cover under contract law

She has been protected under the provision of undue influence mention in section 16 of the Indian contract act.

[16. “Undue influence” defined.—(1) 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 dominate the will of the other and uses that position to obtain an unfair advantage over the other.

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing principle, a person is deemed to be in a position to dominate the will of another— (a) where he holds a real or apparent authority over the other, or where he stands in a fiduciary relation to the other; or (b) where he makes a contract with a person whose mental capacity is temporarily or permanently affected by reason of age, illness, or mental or bodily distress.

A pardanashin woman is prone to undue influence, and so the law throws a “special Special cloak of protection” around her, i.e. Where such a woman signs a contract, mortgage, gift or release, the person who collects her signatures must show that the transaction was not only explained to her but also that she understood the transaction and that there was no undue interference

In the case of a pardanashin woman, the general practice of assuming that the person signing the contract has understood that is not being followed in the case of a pardanashin woman.  The case is considered exceptional, and the other party must prove that the pardanashin woman has not been influenced and that she has fully understood the situation in which she has like any other reasonable person.

How is a Pardanashin Women?

Nevertheless, the word pardanashin was given a clear legal definition. When a woman may claim to be pardanashin the only conditions are when:

  • She is illiterate;
  • She is ignorant because she has never set foot in the world outside.

In view of the above two conditions, it is fair to assume that any woman who is illiterate, ignorant, lacks experience and is incapable of understanding the terms of a contract may demand protection under undue influence given to women who are pardanashin.

In Laxmi Narain & Another v. Hubraja[3]

Rules relating to a Pardanashin lady’s transactions apply equally to an analphabetic and ignorant woman, though she may not be a Pardanashin. It is not because of the Parda itself that the law gives its protection to a Pardanashin lady, but because of the disabilities that lived a life of alienation.

Conditions Where Pardhanashin Women can enter into a contract?

In Ashok Kumar And Anr. vs Gaon Sabha, Ratauli And Ors[4]

Where ignorance and analphabetism are shown to expose the woman concerned to the danger and risk of an unfair contract, in such cases, it would be a perversion of the law to refuse the security, given her state’s helplessness, merely on the ground that she is not a pardanashin lady.

However, this concept also applies to people as in Daya Shanker v. Bach[5]I, who am vulnerable to easy manipulation by their physical or mental ability and appear to enter into contracts or transactions related to the purchase and selling of the property after induction. The concept according to which pardanashin women are protected by law is based on justice and good conscience

Since the other party must show that no improper interference exists, the burden of proof falls on the other party.

To prove that the other party has to establish the following:

  • The contract terms had been thoroughly clarified to her.
  • She completely accepted the words outlined in the contract-just as any other rational person should.
  • She understood the benefits and drawbacks of the contract and her role in it.
  • Her consent was free.

Both of these safeguards can only be asserted when someone is entirely pardanashin. This kind of defence is not given to partial followers of this practice.

Conclusion

By observing the situation of women who are pardanashin and researching various cases related to it, we can safely interpret that women who are pardanashin are vulnerable to undue influence. They can be easily manipulated and can be abused.

The law provides them with protection through the section of undue influence in order to protect the rights of these women and puts the burden of proof on the other party.

However, to ensure that no woman misuses these protections, the judiciary has, in many cases, defined the boundaries of the category-‘pardanashin women’. They widened the scope of this category for all who are illiterate and unable to make their own decisions and also narrowed it so as to bar women who practice this custom only partially.

These methods protect the interest of pardanashin women and people who are illiterate and can be manipulated easily both.

Reference

http://www.legalserviceindia.com/

https://blog.ipleaders.in/

https://www.jstor.org/


[1] AIR 1922 Cal 203

[2]  AIR 1981 All 222.

[3] AIR 1956 P H 249

[4] AIR 1981 All 222

[5] AIR 1982 All 376

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