Can you ask your agent to beat up your tenant?
Can your principal ask you to perform an unlawful act? For example, the act of beating up tenant, locking up tenant who did not pay rent?
An agency contract is an agreement between a principal and an agent to carry out certain tasks. This is a contract in itself between two persons (parties). It is within the purview of Contracts Act, 1950.
There is law in S.24 of Contracts Act, 1950 which governs this.
S.24 What considerations and objects are lawful, and what not.
The consideration or object of an agreement is lawful, unless-
Ite is forbidden by a law;
It is of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat any law;
It is fraudulent;
It involves or implies injury to the person or property of another; or
the court regards it as immoral, or opposed to public policy.
In each of the above cases, the consideration or object of an agreement is said to be unlawful. Every agreement of which the object or consideration is unlawful is void.
The task – beating up or locking up the tenant is a consideration or object. Thus, when the task is unlawful – beating up or locking up the tenant – is causing injury to a person, hence void, void ab initio.
If you as an agent went ahead of causing injury to the tenant, you will be personally liable. In fact was a case reported earlier on about tenant who did not pay rent and agent with landlord locked up the place! Tenant called her sister for rescue and police came and broke in to release her. Later on both agent and landlord were arrested!