Part III , Chapter VII containing Section 115 to 117 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 , lay down the provisions relating to the "doctrine of Estoppel" Section 115 embodies the principle of Estoppels.
Meaning and Definition:
The expression 'Estoppel' is derived from the French word 'Estoup' which means, 'shut the mouth". When a person by declaration (act or omission) makes/ induces another to believe a thing, cannot deny its truth subsequently. The other person cannot be estopped from proceeding upon such declaration.
Estoppel is rule of evidence, by which a person is not allowed to plead the contrary of a fact or state of things, which he formally asserted as existing.
Section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 embodies the Principle of 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 such belied, 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.
'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.
The principle of Estoppel says that a man cannot approbate and reprobate, or that a man cannot blow hot and cold, or, again that a man shall not say one thing at one time and later on say a different thing.
Kinds of Estoppel:
The Principle of Estoppel is classified under three heads in English Law:
i) Estoppel by Record
ii) Estoppel by Deed
iii) Estoppel by Conduct ( in pais de hors the instrument or, usually, Estoppel in pais)
i) Estoppel by Record:
Estoppel by record arises in a case where a judgment has been given by a competent court, and the effect of it is that the matters decided cannot be reopened by a person who is a party to the judgment or his representative. We do not use this rule in India but rely upon the principle of Res Judicata to get the same effect. (See also...Difference between Estoppel and Res Judicata)
ii) Estoppel by Deed
Estoppel by deed also does not obtain in India. English law attaches a particular importance to deeds, with the result that if a person makes a statement in a deed he cannot say the opposite of it later. It means when a person enters into an agreement, and his statement is furnished therein, he shall not be permitted to deny his statement.
iii) Estoppel by Conduct ( in pais de hors the instrument or, usually, estoppel in pais)
When a person, by acts or words or deeds, induces another person to believe the existence of things and make him to act upon it he (for example - the person who induced another) is estopped from denying the existence of such facts.
Other kinds of estoppel
a) Constructive estoppel:
This phrase is a really used, and it is submitted that it is wrongly used. The adjective "constructive" is used in cases where the true state of affairs is different from what is construed to be. For example, under the Transfer of Property Act, registration of a document operates as constructive notice of its contents. A man may really know nothing of the document or its contents, but because it is registered, it is construed as if everyone has such knowledge - because if one wanted to have such knowledge he could obtain it. The adjective is inappropriate when used with Estoppel. Either the conditions of Estoppel are present in which case the principle operates, or they are not present and the principal will not operate.
b) Estoppel by election
This arises in cases where there is a plurality of gifts or rights which are inconsistent or alternative and the party who makes the gifts or creates the rights, shows by and express or implied intention that the person taking the gift or claiming the right should enjoy one of them, but not both of them. Having made his choice, the person choosing cannot go back upon it and later attempt to choose the other.
It also rises in cases where a person cannot approbate or reprobate under the same instrument.
c) Estoppel by silence:
Such Estoppel arises only when there is a duty to speak or disclose
If A and B are parties to a litigation and A contends that B is estopped from raising a particular plea and B, in his turn, contends that A is estopped from raising another plea, and each establishes a case for the application of the principle of Estoppel, then it is as if the two estoppels cannot out, and the court will have to proceed as if there is no such plea on either side.
Relevant Case Law:
Sarat Chandar Dey vs Gopal Chandra Laha (1892) 19 IA 203.
A widow was holding property under a hibanama (hiba-bil-ewaz) executed by her husband in her favour. She mortgaged the property. During the transaction, her son acted on her behalf under a power of attorney. He has signed the mortgage on her behalf and in her name and received the money from the mortgagee. The mortgagee filed a suit on his mortgage and in the execution of a decree, the Appellant and purchased the property. Meanwhile, the son claiming to the owner of the property had sold a part of it to the respondent and the respondent filed a suit for partition and possession of the part purchased by him. The Appellant set up the widow's title to the property and also that is if the Hibanama was ineffective her son was estopped from denying her title under Section 115.
Satnam Gowda vs Beherampur University 1990 SC 107 1990 (3) SCC 23.
In this case the Appellant, a student was admitted to law course at Ganjam Law College. There was no dispute that at the time of admission he had submitted his marksheet. He studied for 2 years and was admitted to final year course. His result of Pre-law and intermediate examinations watch withheld on the ground that he was ineligible for admission as he secured 39.5% marks in M.A. examination Overruling the High Court decision, the Supreme Court held that Estoppel would apply. The Court also pointed out that there was the requirement of minimum marks 40% of marks for graduates only. There was no requirements of any percentage of marks for postgraduates. There was no Fraud or miss-representation on the part of the candidate