Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

Void/not valid from the beginning




According to the maxim, proposition in law within a court’s jurisdiction, a certain document which purports to affect legal rights is or was null and void from its beginning, because of some vitiating element. In case of contracts, the maxim states that a contract was void as soon as it was created. The parties of the contract are not legally related based on what was written in the agreement because the agreement in question was never valid. This type of agreement can never be void because it was never a legal contract to begin with. However, this has certain exceptions. In general, a contract that cannot be legally enforced by either party is considered to be void. Where a Court declares a document or an act to be void ab initio, the parties are returned to their respective positions at the time of the ab initio event.


A sells his land to B for Rs. 50,000 but fails to allow B to occupy the land. In this case, the agreement itself becomes void, since the condition to give the possession of land in exchange of Rs 50,000 has not been fulfilled. Thus, the maxim void ab initio is applicable.

Case Laws

In Radhey Shyam Gupta vs. UP State Agro Industrial Corporation, it was held that “Order is declared as void ab initio means no order is in existence and petitioner shall deem to continue in service.”

In Henry Ah Hoc & Another vs. The State and Another, it was held that “Void means prospectively void and void ab initio means void from its very inception, or in other words, retrospectively void, the word void as used in Article 254(1) of the Constitution.

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