LAW RELATING TO ESTOPPEL IN EVIDENCE ACT

INTRODUCTION

Estoppel has been derived from English word ‘estop’. Section 115 of the Evidence
Act are in one sense a rule of evidence and are founded upon the well -known
doctrine laid down in Pickard v. Sears(1837). In this case Lord Chief Justice
Denman observed: “Where one by his word or conduct willfully causes another to
believe for the existence of a certain state of thing and induced him to act on that
belief so as to alter his own previous position, the former is concluded from
averring against the latter a different state of things as existing at the first time.”
OBJECT

The object of estoppel is to prevent fraud and secure justice between the parties by
promotion of honesty and good faith. Therefore, where one person makes a
misrepresentation to the other about a fact he would not be shut out by the rule of
estoppel, if that other person knew the true state of facts and must consequently not
have been misled by the misrepresentation.
KINDS OF ESTOPPEL

Sir Adward Coke classified estoppel into three categories –

  • Estoppel by matter of record/judgment– ‘Estoppel by record’ which is known
    in English Law is substantially same to ‘Res Judicata’ in Indian Law. This type of
    estoppel is based upon ‘Final Judgment of Competent Court’. The basis of estoppel
    by record is the conclusiveness of judgment. Lockyer v. Ferryman (1876) is
    leading case on this point. Suit for declaration of marriage against a woman was
    brought and dismissed. After her death it was again brought. It was dismissed on the
    ground of estoppel by record. In this case Lord Blackburn observed, “The rule of
    res judicata is always be on two grounds:
    (a) Public policy that there should be an end to litigation; and
    (b) Hardship to the individual. He should not be vexed twice for the same cause”.
  • Estoppel by matter in writing/ deed– Estoppel by deed or writing is that a party
    who executes a deed is estopped in a court of law from saying that the facts stated in
    the deed are not truly stated.
  • Estoppel by in paiis/ pais/ conduct [Sections 115 to 117]– Doctrine of estoppel
    is based on Latin maxim which is “Allegans contraria non est audiendus”.It means
    contrary allegation should not be heard. Yesterday if you have said, tomorrow you
    cannot deny your previous statement. Sections 115 to 117 encompasses not just rule
    of estoppel by representation or conduct but also by agreement. Sections 115 to 117
    deals rule of evidence. Section 115 is based on Pickard v. Sears decided by Lord
    Denman in 1837 in which he observed, “Where one by his word or conduct
    willfully causes another to believe for the existence of a certain state of thing and
    induced him to act on that belief so as to alter his own previous position, the former
    is concluded from averring against the latter a different state of things as existing at
    the first time.”
    RELEVANT SECTION
  • Section 115 ESTOPPEL – 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 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.
    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 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.
    SECTION 116 ESTOPPEL OF TENANT AND OF LICENSEE OF PERSON
    IN POSSESSION
  • Estoppel of-
    (1) Tenant– No tenant of immovable property, or 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
    (2) Licensee– No person who came upon any immovable property by the license of
    the person in possession there of shall be permitted to deny that such person had a
    title to such possession at the time when such license was given.
    SECTION 117 ESTOPPEL OF ACCEPTOR OF BILL OF EXCHANGE,
    BAILEE AND LICENSEE-

    (1) Acceptor– No acceptor of a bill of exchange shall be permitted to deny that the
    drawer had authority to draw such bill or to endorse it;
    (2) Bailee– Nor shall any bailee be permitted to deny that his bailor had, at the time
    when the bailment commenced, authority to make such bailment.
    (3) Licensee -Nor shall any licensee be permitted to deny that his licensor had, at
    the time when the license commenced, authority to 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 person had a right to them as against the bailor.
    INGREDIENTS OF SECTION 115-
    To bring the case within the scope of estoppel as defined in section 115 of the
    Evidence Act:
  • There must be a representation by a person or his authorised agent to another in
    any form a declaration, act or omission;
  • The representation must have been of the existence of a fact and not of promises
    de futuro or intention which might or might not be enforceable in contract;
  • The representation must have been meant to be relied upon;
  • There must have been belief on the part of the other party in its truth;
  • There must have been action on the faith of that declaration, act or omission, that
    is to say, the declaration, act or omission must have actually caused another to act
    on the faith of it, and to alter his former position to his prejudice or detriment;
  • The misrepresentation or conduct or omission must have been the proximate
    cause of leading the other party to act to his prejudice;
  • The person claiming the benefit of an estoppel must show that he was not aware
    of the true state of things. If he was aware of the real state of affairs or had means of
    knowledge, there can be no estoppel;
  • Only the person to whom representation was made or for whom it was designed
    can avail himself of it. A person is entitled to plead estoppel in his own individual
    character and not as a representative of his assignee.
    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ESTOPPEL AND ADMISSION
  • The difference between admission and estoppel is a marked one.
    • Admissions being declarations against an interest are good evidence but they
    are not conclusive and a party is always at liberty to withdraw admissions by
    proving that they are either mistaken or untrue.
    • But estoppel creates an absolute bar.
    NO ESTOPPEL AGAINST RIGHT
  • It may be pointed out that estoppel deals with questions of facts and not of rights. A
    man is not estopped from asserting a right which he had said that he will not assert.
    It is also a well-known principle that there can be no estoppel against a statute.
    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ESTOPPEL AND WAIVER-
    (1) Provash Chandra Dalui & Anr. v. Biswanath Banerjee & Anr(April 3,
    1989)

    The essential element of waiver is that there must be a voluntary and intentional
    relinquishment of a known right or such conduct as warrants the inference of the
    relinquishment of such right.
    • Waiver is distinct from estoppel in that in waiver the essential element is
    actual intent to abandon or surrender right,
    • while in estoppel such intent is immaterial. The necessary condition is the
    detriment of the other party by the conduct of the one estopped. An estoppel
    may result though the party estopped did not intend to lose any existing right.
    Thus voluntary choice is the essence of waiver for which there must have
    existed an opportunity for a choice between the relinquishment and the
    conferment of the right in question.
    (2) Basheshar Nath v. The Commissioner of Income-Tax, Delhi & Rajasthan &
    Another
    .
    Waiver differs from estoppel in the sense that it is contractual and is an agreement
    to release or not to assert a right; estoppel is a rule of evidence.
    CASE LAWS
  • Shri Krishnan v. The Kurukshetra University (Supreme Court, November 17,
    1975)
    Fact
    – He was the student of LL.B. This case was regarding short of attendance. In
    this case
    Supreme Court observed, “It is obvious that during this period of four to five
    months it was the duty of the University authorities to scrutinize the form in order to
    find out whether it was in order. Equally it was the duty of the Head of the
    Department of Law, before submitting the form to the University to see that the
    form complied with all the requirements of law. If neither the Head of the
    Department nor the University authorities took care to scrutinize the admission
    form, then the question of the appellant committing a fraud did not arise. It is well
    settled that where a person on whom fraud is committed is in a position to discover
    the truth by due diligence, fraud is not proved. It was neither a case of suggestion
    falsi, or suppression yeri. The appellant never wrote to the University authorities
    that he attended the prescribed number of lectures. There was ample time and
    opportunity for the University authorities to have found out the defect. In these
    circumstances, therefore, if the University authorities acquiesced in the infirmities
    which the admission form contained and allowed the appellant to appear in part I
    Examination in April 1972, then by force of the University Statute the University
    had no power to withdraw the candidature of the appellant”. Estoppel was applied
    against Kurukshetra University. It is well settled that where a person on whom fraud
    is committed is in a position to discover the truth by due diligence, there no
    question of fraud aroused. University had ample time to scrutinize, but it failed.
    This deficiency was regarding shortage in attendance.
  • Kumari Madhuri Patil v. Additional Commissioner, Tribal Development
    (Supreme Court, Sept. 2, 1994)

    In this case Kumari Madhuri Patil got caste certificate for which she was not
    entitled. She took admission in BDS course in Scheduled Castes. Her admission
    was cancelled as candidate of Scheduled Caste. In this case Supreme Court said,
    “A party that seeks equity, must come with clean hands”. He who comes to the
    court with false claim, cannot plead equity nor the Court would be justified to
    exercise equity jurisdiction in his favor. In case of fraud, estoppel will not be
    applicable.
  • CONCLUSION
    The Doctrine of estoppel is an important principle which protects people
    against fraud or misrepresentation. There are several instances where an
    innocent person becomes a prey to false representations made to them by some
    party. Sometimes the case may be such that the plaintiff suffered huge losses.
    This doctrine avoids such situations and charges the person for his wrongful
    conduct. This legal principle gives an incentive to every one of those people
    who tries to make false representations to other and induces them to act upon it
    by planting their faith in them, and incur losses as a result of such false
    representations, by not performing such acts, else they would be held liable.

Aishwarya Says:

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