In India, the term “free consent” is a fundamental principle in contract law. It is a legal requirement in which both parties must freely enter into an agreement without any form of coercion or undue influence. The Indian Contract Act of 1872 defines the meaning of free consent and its importance in the formation of a legally binding contract.

The Act stipulates that a contract is only valid if it is formed through the free and voluntary consent of both parties. As per section 13 of the Act, free consent is said to have been given if it is not obtained by coercion, fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, or mistake.

Coercion refers to the use of force or threats to compel someone to enter into a contract against their will. This includes physical violence and emotional pressure.

Fraud occurs when one party deliberately misrepresents facts or conceals information in an attempt to deceive the other party. For example, if a seller misrepresents the condition of a product to a buyer to get them to purchase it, this would be considered fraud.

Misrepresentation is similar to fraud, but it can be unintentional. It occurs when one party makes a false statement or omits information that leads the other party to enter into the contract under false pretenses.

Undue influence is the use of a position of power or authority to influence another person`s decision. For example, if a person in a position of authority uses their influence to convince someone to enter into a contract, this would be considered undue influence.

Mistake occurs when one party enters into a contract under a false belief. For example, if a buyer believes that a product is of a certain quality, but it turns out to be of a lower quality, this would be a mistake.

In conclusion, free consent is a fundamental principle in the Indian Contract Act. It is essential that both parties enter into a contract without any coercion, fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, or mistake. This ensures that contracts are formed fairly and equitably, protecting the interests of both parties involved. As such, it is vital for businesses and individuals to understand the importance of free consent in contract formation.