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'Alternative Promise' - Contract Law (Sec 58, Indian Contract Act 1872)

Section 58 of Indian Contract Act 1872  Alternative promise, one branch being illegal

In the case of an alternative promise, one branch of which is legal and the other illegal, the legal branch alone can be enforced.


A and B agree that A shall pay B 1,000 rupees, for which B shall afterwards deliver to A either rice or smuggled opium.

This is a valid contract to deliver rice, and a void agreement as to the opium.

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Explanation: In case of an alternate promise, the parties have alternate options which can be either for alternate promise or for alternate consideration or both. In such a case if one alternative is legal and the other is illegal, then the legal part is only enforceable. Important to note - that both the alternatives must be clearly identifiable, that is to say, it should be without ambiguity.

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