According to Section 126 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872  A “contract of guarantee” is a contract to perform the promise, or discharge the liability, of a third person in case of his default. The person who gives the guarantee is called the “surety”, the person in respect of whose default the guarantee is given is called the “principal debtor”, and the person to whom the guarantee is given is called the “creditor”.
      There are three contracts and three parties in a contract of guarantee, the surety is one of them. Surety is also known as guarantor.  Surety is said to be discharged when his liability comes to send. Section 130 to Section 142 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 deals with the Provision of "Discharge of Surety"

Modes of Discharge of surety's Liability

          Following are the modes of Discharge of Surety's Liability

1. By Revocation: 

         According to Section 130 of the Indian Contract Act,  a continuing guarantee may at any time be revoked by the surety, as to future transactions, by notice to the creditor.

Illustrations -

(a) A, in consideration of B’s discounting, at, A’s request, bills of exchange for C, guarantees to B, for twelve months, the due payment of all such bills to the extent of 5,000 rupees. B discounts bills for C to the extent of 2,000 rupees. Afterwards, at the end of three months, A revokes the guarantee. This revocation discharges A from all liability to B for any subsequent discount. But A is liable to B for the 2,000 rupees, on default of C.

(b) A guarantees to B, to the extent of 10,000 rupees, that C shall pay all the bills that B shall draw upon him. B draws upon C, C accepts the bill. A gives notice of revocation. C dishonours the bill at maturity. A is liable upon his guarantee.

2. By Death:

        According to Section 131 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 the death of the surety operates, in the absence of any contract to the contrary, as a revocation of a continuing guarantee, so far as regards future transactions.

3. By Variance in the terms of the contract:

           Section 133 of the Indian Contract Act says that "any variance made without the surety’s consent, in the terms of the contract between the principal debtor and the creditor, discharges the surety as to transactions subsequent to the variance. It means Surety is not liable for the altered contract.


(a) A becomes surety to C for B’s conduct as manager in C’s bank. Afterwards, B and C contract, without A’s consent, that B’s salary shall be raised, and that he shall become liable for one-fourth of the losses on overdrafts. B allows a customer to over-draw, and the bank loses a sum of money. A is discharged from his suretyship by the variance made without his consent and is not liable to make good this loss.

(b) A guarantees C against the misconduct of B in an office to which B is appointed by C, and of which the duties are defined by an Act of the Legislature. By a subsequent Act, the nature of the office is materially altered. Afterwards, B misconducts himself. A is discharged by the change from future liability under his guarantee, though the misconduct of B is in respect of a duty not affected by the later Act.

(c) C agrees to appoint B as his clerk to sell goods at a yearly salary, upon A’s becoming surety to C for B’s duly accounting for money received by him as such clerk. Afterwards, without A’s knowledge or consent, C and B agree that B should be paid by a commission on the goods sold by him and not by a fixed salary. A is not liable for the subsequent misconduct of B.

(d) A gives to C a continuing guarantee to the extent of 3,000 rupees for any oil supplied by C to B on credit. Afterwards B becomes embarrassed, and, without the knowledge of A, B and C contract that C shall continue to supply B with oil for ready money, and that the payments shall be applied to the then, existing debts between B and C. A is not liable on his guarantee for any goods supplied after this new arrangement.

(e) C contracts to lend B 5,000 rupees on the 1st March. A guarantees repayment. C pays the 5,000 rupees to B on the 1st January, A is discharged from his liability, as the contract has been varied, inasmuch as C might sue B for the money before the first of March.

4. Discharge of surety by release or discharge of principal debtor (Section 134 of I.C.A): 

       The surety is discharged by any contract between the creditor and the principal debtor, by which the principal debtor is released, or by any act or omission of the creditor, the legal consequence of which is the discharge of the principal debtor.


(a) A gives a guarantee to C for goods to be supplied by C to B. C supplies goods to B, and afterwards, B becomes embarrassed and contracts with his creditors (including C) to assign to them his property in consideration of their releasing him from their demands. Here B is released from his debt by the contract with C, and A is discharged from his suretyship.

(b) A contracts with B to grow a crop of indigo on A’s land and to deliver it to B at a fixed rate, and C guarantees A’s performance of this contract. B diverts a stream of water which is necessary for irrigation of A’s land, and thereby prevents him from raising the indigo. C is no longer liable on his guarantee.

(c) A contracts with B for a fixed price to build a house for B within a stipulated time. B supplying the necessary timber. C guarantees A’s performance of the contract. B omits to supply the timber. C is discharged from his suretyship.

5. When Creditor Compounds with, gives time to, or agrees not to sue the principal debtor (Section 135 I.C.A) :

         A contract between the creditor and the principal debtor, by which the creditor make a composition with, or promises to give time, or not to sue, the principal debtor, discharges the surety, unless the surety assents to such contract.

6. Discharge of surety by creditor's act or omission impairing surety's eventual remedy:

        According to Section 139 of the Indian Contract Act, If the creditor does any act which is inconsistent with the right of the surety, or omits to do any act which his duty to the surety requires him to do, and the eventual remedy of the surety himself against the principal debtor is thereby impaired, the surety is discharged.


(a) B contracts to build a ship for C for a given sum, to be paid by instalments as the work reaches certain stages. A becomes surety to C for B’s due performance of the contract. C, without the knowledge of A, prepays to B the last two instalments. A is discharged by this prepayment.

(b) C lends money to B on the security of a joint and several promissory note made in C’s favour by B, and by A as surety for B, together with a bill of sale of B’s furniture, which gives power to C to sell the furniture, and apply the proceeds in discharge of the note. Subsequently, C sells the furniture, but, owing to his misconduct and wilful negligence, only a small price is realised. A is discharged from liability on the note.

(c) A puts M as apprentice to B, and gives a guarantee to B for M’s fidelity. B promises on his part that he will at least once a month, see M make up the cash. B omits to see this done as promised, and M embezzles. A is not liable to B on his guarantee.

7. By loss of Security by the Creditor (Section 141): 

            A surety is entitled to the benefit of every security which the creditor has against the principal debtor at the time when the contract of suretyship entered into, whether the surety knows of the existence of such security or not; and if the creditor loses, or without the consent of the existence of such security or not; and if the creditor loses, or without the consent of the surety, parts with such security, the surety, the surety is discharged to the extent of the value of the security.


(a) C, advances to B, his tenant, 2,000 rupees on the guarantee of A. C has also a further security for the 2,000 rupees by a mortgage of B’s furniture. C, cancels the mortgage. B becomes insolvent and C sues A on his guarantee. A is discharged from liability to the amount of the value of the furniture.

(b) C, a creditor, whose advance to B is secured by a decree, receives also a guarantee for that advance from A. C afterwards takes B’s goods in execution under the decree, and then, without the knowledge of A, withdraws the execution. A is discharged.

(c) A, as surety for B, makes a bond jointly with B to C, to secure a loan from C to B. Afterwards, C obtains from B a further security for the same debt. Subsequently, C gives up the further security. A is not discharged.

8. By Invalidation of Contract: 

           According to Section 142 of The Indian Contract Act, any Guarantee obtained by misrepresentation is invalid. Section 142 runs as follows:
           Any guarantee which has been obtained by means of misrepresentation made by the creditor, or with his knowledge and assent, concerning a material part of the transaction, is invalid.

9. By Novation: 

            Novation means substitution of an existing contract with a new one. Section 62 says that If the parties to a contract agree to substitute a new contract for it, or to rescind or alter it, the original contract need not be performed. The surety is liable under the terms of old contract, but if by novation old contract gets discharged then surety also automatically gets discharged.


(a) A owes money to B under a contract. It is agreed between A, B and C, that B shall thenceforth accept C as his debtor, instead of A. The old debt of A to B is at an end, and a new debt from C to B has been contracted.

(b) A owes B 10,000 rupees. A enters into an agreement with B, and gives B a mortgage of his (A’s), estate for 5,000 rupees in place of the debt of 10,000 rupees. This is a new contract and extinguishes the old.

(c) A owes B 1,000 rupees under a contract, B owes C 1,000 rupees, B orders A to credit C with 1,000 rupees in his books, but C does not assent to the agreement. B still owes C 1,000 rupees, and no new contract has been entered into.

See also 

1) Continuing Guarantee : Modes of Revocation of Continuing Guarantee

2) What is Consideration and what are Kinds of Consideration ?

3) Free Consent : What is Consent ? When it is Free ?

4) What are the Essentials of a Valid Acceptance

5) What are Void Agreements ?


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