Doctrine of Estoppel under Evidence Act

Introduction

The doctrine of Estoppel is based on the principle of equity and good conscience. Section-115, 116, 117 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with the provision of the doctrine of Estoppel. It would be most inequitable and unjust of one person is allowed to speak contrary to his earlier statement. As it would cause loss and injury to the person who has acted on such a statement. The objective of this doctrine is to prevent the commission of fraud against another. The Rule of Estoppel is based on the maxim, “allegations contraria non-est audiences” i.e. a person alleging contrary facts should not be heard.

Meaning of Estoppel

” Estoppel means stopped, which means a person is not allowed or permitted to speak contrary to his earlier statement.”

Section-115 of the Indian Evidence Act defined Estoppel as follows

“When one person has by his declaration, act or omission, intentionally caused or permitted another person to believe a thing to be true and to act upon 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.”

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Illustration

‘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 afterward 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

Conditions for Application of Doctrine of Estoppel

For the application of the doctrine of estoppel following conditions have to be satisfied-

  1. There must be a representation made by one person to another person.
  2. The representation must have been made as to fact and not as to the law.
  3. The representation must be as to an existing fact.
  4. The representation must be intended to cause a belief in another.
  5.  The person to whom the representation is made must have acted upon that belief and must have suffered a loss.

Provisions  In Indian Evidence Act As to Estoppel

A) Sec-116.Estoppel of the tenant and of the license of the person in possession

No tenant of immovable property of person claiming through such tenant shall, during the continuance of the tenancy, be permitted to deny that the landlord of such tenant had, at the beginning of the tenancy, a title to such immovable property; and no a person who came upon any immovable property by the license of the person in possession thereof shall be permitted to deny that such person has a title to such possession at the time when such license was given.

This section prevents and disables the tenant from denying the title of the landlord at the begging. No tenant in possession shall be permitted to challenge or question the title of the landlord at the time of commencement of Tenancy. And no person who came upon any immovable property by the license of the person in possession thereof shall be permitted to deny that such a person had a title at the time when the license was given. Thus no licensee shall be permitted to question or challenge the grant or license at the time of granting a license

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 B) Sec-117. Estoppel of the acceptor of a bill of exchange, bailee or licensee

No acceptor of a bill of exchange shall be permitted to deny the drawer had the authority of draw such bill or to endorse it; nor shall any bailee or licensee be permitted to deny that his bailor or licensor had, at the time when the bailment or license commenced, the authority to make such bailment or grant such license.

Explanation(1)

The acceptor of a bill of exchange may deny that the bill was really drawn by the person by whom it purports to have been drawn

Explanation(2)

If a bailee delivers the goods bailed to a person other than the bailor, he may prove that such a person had a right to them as against the bailor.

Case Laws

1) Rajesh Wadhwa v Dr.(Mrs) Sushma Goyal AIR 1989 Delhi 144

In this case, the lease deed executed by the land lady’s father on behalf of the landlady. Eviction petition by father under the power of attorney of the landlady. The tenant was estopped from taking the plea that the land lady’s father was not a duly constituted attorney to file the eviction petition.

2) Ambika Prasad Mohanty v Orissa Engineering College and others AIR 1989 Orissa 173

In this case, the plea was against the cancellation of admission of students admitted to private Engineering College after the selection. The cancellation of his admission was on the ground that he had secured minimum marks in the qualifying examination as prescribed in college prospects. The university regulation does not prescribe any minimum marks for eligibility for admission to the engineering college estopped from canceling the admission.

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Conclusion

The principle of estoppel is a rule which prevents a person from taking up the inconsistent position from what he has pleaded or asserted earlier. Originally, it had its moorings in the law of evidence as a rule relating to the representation of existing facts and not as to statement of future intentions and promises. In that sense, it was considered as a rule of evidence. With the emergence of the doctrine of promissory estoppel that would hold a party responsible to his promises to the other party, the doctrine extended into the law of contract also. From a rule of evidence or procedural law, it grew also into a rule of substantive law providing a cause of action to the promises, As a result of evidence, estoppel could be used only as a “shield” but as a rule of substantive law, it could be used also as a “sword”.

 

Author: Rohit,
Law Center-II, Faculty of Law, Delhi University, Second Year, Student

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