MEANING: in good faith, without any malicious intent.

EXPLANATION: Bonafide refers to a quality of authenticity or genuineness. Also,acting without the intention of defrauding. It signifies honesty, the real thing and that something has been made or done in good faith without any attempt to deceive anyone.

For E.g. when we say Bonafide purchaser, it means a purchaser or holder who takes something without fraud, deceit, or knowledge of a lien or superior claim by another. Here, the law needs all individuals in their transactions to act with good faith and a contract where the members have not acted bonafide is void at the pleasure of the innocent party.

Bonafide can be of various forms:

Bona Fide Occupational qualificationnecessary qualifications to do a job.

Example- A private helicopter company is hiring pilots who had worked with Saudi Arabian government and as the current driver recruited will be flying near the pilgrimage holy rock Mecca and such flights will enter the Mecca area, he should be Muslim by religion because Saudi Law specifies a penalty for non-muslim entering this area.

Here, in this case, a Muslim person will be preferred over a non –muslim man as the Bonafide occupational qualification for this job requires the person to be Muslim. Also, here the person is discriminated based on religion but it is legally acceptable under Title VII of Civil Rights Act, 1964 because a non – muslim person will not be suitable for this job and would also be held liable under Saudi Law. The qualifications can be made on religion, sex, national origin, age and pregnancy status. However, a person’s race and the colour is never a legally acceptable Bonafide qualification.

Bona Fide Residence test It is for certain American citizens and residents living and working out of the country demanding tax break. To qualify for this residence test, the person must be living outside the country for a one full taxable year, with no interruptions in between.

There is a difference between legal domicile and Bonafide residence.

Example– A businessman is living abroad because of some business-related works for one year. Once he is done with his works, he thinks of returning to his home in New York. Where he was living for business-related stuff is his bona fide residence because he is residing there while doing his works. However, once he is back to New York, where his family and belongings are, he has returned to his domicile.

Also, to meet the criteria for a Bonafide residence test, an individual must live for a full taxable year and other qualifications presented by the test. Just living out for a year does not amount to qualification for Bonafide residence test. 

Bona Fide Purchaser Innocent purchaser of an asset who purchases for value without notice of any other party’s claim against that property.

Example-A property is fraudulently sold to Bonafide purchaser when someone else had already laid claim to it. Being a Bonafide purchaser, he innocently purchased that property without having a piece of prior knowledge about anyone else may be able to claim that property. Now, still, the Bonafide Purchaser will be able to claim the ownership of the property depending on the laws that govern that jurisdiction. Although this seems unfair, the other party who had laid claim to the property can sue the seller for fraud and ask for damages.


  • A person who inherits a property as a gift cannot be a Bonafide purchaser as he did not buy it.


In Luchman v Kallicharan, X held his wife as the owner of the property by taking the sale deed in her name with a recital that the purchase money was paid out of her streedhan. After the demise of X, wife sold the property to the defendant who purchased it bonafide and for value. Son being the heir, sued to recover the possession of the property from defendants. The court held against him that he could not recover the possession as there was misrepresentation by the father in allowing the property to be taken by the wife under a deed of sale, representing that the purchase money was her streedhan and in all his public, private acts during his lifetime representing that it was his wife’s property. After such representation, his heirs were no more entitled to recover, than the father would have been in his lifetime.

The privy council observed that principle of natural equity must be universally applicable which says where one man permits other to hold himself out as the owner of an estate, and a third individual buys it, for price from the apparent owner in the perception that he is the real owner, the man who so allows the other to hold himself out shall no longer be permitted to recover his secret title unless he can overthrow that of the purchaser by showing either that he had no bonafide intention to buy the property or even after knowing about the real-life, he doesn’t inquire.

In Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., Johnson Controls,manufacturesbatteries.The battery manufacturing process used lead as a main ingredient and so Johnson’s people were exposed to an excessive level of lead. Overtime passed, eight women employees with high lead blood levels became pregnant. Although no babies suffered defects, Johnson introduced a very special policy excluding all fertile women from lead-exposed jobs. Women who could show they had been infertile through medical documentation had been authorized to do these jobs. They did not, however, ban fertile men from doing these jobs. 

Various people brought a class-action lawsuit against Johnson( A class-action lawsuit is one which is brought up by a large number of people as a group with same interest) in District Court, claiming it’s new policy was sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Court dominated in favour of Johnson Controls. The court stressed, the exposure to lead put a fetus and the reproductive abilities of would-be parents at risk. Neither the union nor the employees had previously offered an acceptable alternative way to protect the fetus. The court found the agency’s policy to be “business necessity”. The suing groups appealed.

The court of Appeals also ruled in favour of the company. They said it was a ”business necessity” and also such policies could exclude women without being considered discrimination under “a bonafide occupational qualification” clause found in Title VII, section 703, part E(1) of the Civil Rights Act.

Disappointedwith the Appellate Court’s decision, the people filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was granted in the end. The query posed to the Supreme Court was this: “May an employer exclude a fertile female employee from certain jobs because of its concern for the health of the fetus the woman might conceive[become pregnant]”?Ruling against Johnson Controls, the Court dominated – unanimously – that Johnson’s policy was clear discrimination against women. Even regulations with good intentions can and must be prohibited if they bring discrimination. The foremost downfall for Johnson became that they did not include fertile men in their concerns, even though excessive ranges of lead exposure can cause problems with male reproductive health as well, making it a very biased and equitable policy. 

The Court brought that Johnson’s policy couldn’t be taken into consideration as Bonafide occupational qualification because it had nothing to do with the women’s potential to do their jobs. While the Court agreed that lead exposure is something that must be minimized in terms of the unborn, it does not affect a worker’s potential to do her job.The Court also added that the lower courts discussion of business necessity, they asserted, was a mistake and not at all appropriate.

The court said the following:

  • “We have no difficulty concluding that Johnson Controls cannot establish a Bonafide occupational qualification. Fertile women as far as appears in the record, participate in the manufacture of batteries as efficiently as anyone else”.
  • “Decision must be left to the parents rather than the employers.Title VII  and Pregnancy Discrimination Act simply do not allow a woman’s dismissal because of her failure to submit to sterilization[or because she may become pregnant]”.
  • “Our holding today that Title VII, as so amended, forbids sex-specific fetal-protection policies is neither remarkable nor unprecedented. Concern for a woman’sexisting or potential offspring historically has been the excuse for denying women equal employment opportunities. It is no more appropriate for the courts than it is for individual employers to determine whether a woman’s reproductive role is more important to herself and her family than her economic role. Congress has left this choice to the woman as hers to make”.

Authored by-: Kashish Ali

Jamia Milia Islamia.

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