The principle of estoppel is an important concept of the law of evidence. It is related to conduct. It does not allow behaving in one way at a time and in another way at other time. There is no place of contradicting a thing said in the law of evidence. It is also called Doctrine of Estoppel.
Doctrine of Estoppel: Introduction
Estoppel literally means- ‘to stop’. According to it, when any person says one thing at one time and another thing at another time, then he is prevented from doing so. This is an estoppel.
Section 115 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 defines estoppel. According to it-
“When one person has, by his declaration, act or omission, intentionally caused or permitted another person to believe a thing to be true by his act upon such belief, neither he nor his representative shall be allowed, in any suit or proceeding between himself and such person or his representative, to deny the truth of that thing.”
It can be said in simple words that- Where any person intentionally causes another person to believe a thing to be true by his act, omission or declaration and such other person acts upon such belief, then that person shall not be allowed to deny the truth of that thing, later in a suit or proceeding. It means that a person cannot deny thing after having stated it to be true. In the case of B. Manjunath v. C.G.Srinivas (AIR 2005 Karnataka 136), it has been stated by the Karnataka High Court that by way of the principle of estoppel, the plaintiff may be stopped to go back on his representation. This is the doctrine of Estoppel.
It could be explained by an illustration. A person accepts his liability to make payment under an arbitration award. Such a person cannot later challenge the award. (Mr. Govingji Javet and Co. v. Sri Saraswati Mills Ltd., AIR 1982 Bombay 76.) Section 115 gives a good example. ‘A’ intentionally and falsely leads ‘B’ to believe that certain land belongs to A, and thereby induces B to buy and pay for it. The land afterwards becomes the property of A, and A seeks to set aside the sale on the ground that, at the time of the sale, he had no title. He must not be allowed to prove his want of title.
In respect of estoppels, the case of ‘Shammim Beg v. Najmunnissa Begum (AIR 2007 N.O.C. 2085 Mumbai) is quotable. In this case, a document was executed between the husband and wife an intention that the wife has begotten before the marriage with the husband. The husband had accepted the fact of knowing the child. The wife gave birth to a child on the day of marriage. The husband could not challenge the legitimacy of this child. He is bounded by his previous statements.
It becomes clear from this example that the doctrine of estoppels is based on having just in equity and fairness in action. Also, in the case of Jindal Thermal Power Co. Ltd. v. Karnataka Transmission Corporation Ltd., (AIR 2005 N.O.C. 55 Karnataka) it has been said that doctrine of estoppels appertains to equity and fairness in action.
In this context, the case of ‘Pickard v. Spears’ (1837 A and E. 469) is a good example. In this case, the principle of doctrine of estoppels is propounded as- where any person intentionally causes another person to believe by his words or conduct that a particular thing as the existence and thereby encourages that person to act upon that belief in such a way that his original situation is changed, then the first person shall be stopped from stating that the existence of the actual situation was of different type.
From the above definition of estoppels, the following essential elements of it reflect-
- A person misrepresents by his act, omission or declaration,
- Such misrepresentation is regarding the existence of any fact;
- Such misrepresentation is intentionally caused to make a person believe a thing;
- The other person believes such misrepresentation to be true;
- The other person does some act believing such misrepresentation;
- Such act causes injury to the other person; and
- Such a person is unaware of the actual situation.
Types of Estoppel
- Estoppel, by record- It is created by the decision of any competent court. When any court decides finally over a subject then it becomes conclusive and the parties, their representative, executor, administrator, etc. become bound to that decision. They can neither bring another suit on the same subject nor can make the same subject disputed. They are stopped from doing so. It is alike res judicata.
- Estoppel by deed- When any person becomes bound to another person on the basis of a record regarding few facts, the neither that person nor any person claiming through him shall be allowed to deny it.
- Estoppel by conduct- It is such estoppel which arises due to act, conduct or misrepresentation by any party. When any person causes another person to believe by his word or conductor encourages them to believe and the other person acts upon that belief and causes a change in their situation, then the first person is stopped from denying truthfulness of his statements made earlier. Actually, this is an estoppel of general nature.
- Equitable Estoppel- Such estoppels which have not been provided by any statute is called equitable estoppel. The best examples of equitable estoppels are there in Section 41 and 43 of Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
- Promissory Estoppel- It has originated as an exception to consideration in the field of contract law. When ant person promises another to lend him certain relief or profit and the other changes his position on the basis of such promise, then the person making promise shall be stopped from stating that his promise was without any consideration.
- It does not apply to those matters where both parties have the knowledge of truthfulness.
- It does not apply against statutes. It cannot contradict the provision of statues. It cannot also remove the condition of statues.
- It does not apply to regulations.
- It does not apply to ultra virus orders and decisions.
- It does not apply to questions of law.
- It does not apply to sovereign acts of the government.
BY- Saumya Chowdhary
Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur
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