Doctrine of Estoppel under Indian Evidence Act,1872

According to the Doctrine of estoppel there are certain facts which the parties are stopped from proving. Estoppel is a principle of law by which a person is held bound by the representations or by his conduct. The doctrine of Estoppel is enumerated under section 115 to 117 of Evidence Act.

The Doctrine of Estoppel states that – 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.[1]

Illustration X sold a car to Y, X does so by wrongfully making Y to believe that the car belonged to X. X subsequently cannot take the defence that the title of the car cannot be provided to Y as the car didn’t belong to X in the first place. X will be liable for the same.

Read: Recording Of Evidence From Person Unable To Give Verbal Statements

This doctrine is a rule of evidence which is based on legal maxim Allegans contraria non est audindus which means person alleging contrary facts will not be heard.

This principle was founded from a famous English case Pickard v. Sears (1837) stating that it is inequitable and unjust to allow a person to deny the truth of a statement which he has made to another and the other person has acted on it believing it to be true. The objective behind this is to prevent fraud and secure justice between parties by promotion of justice and good faith. In the case of Jindal Thermal Power Co. Ltd v. Karnataka Transmission Corporation Ltd (2005) it has been said that this doctrine appertains to equity and fairness in action.

The principle provides that a man cannot approbate or reprobate or that man shall not be allowed to say one thing at a time or different thing at another time.

Read: Opinion of Experts – Section 45 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Essential Ingredients –

  1. A representation is made by a person to another,
  2. Other person believes it and acts upon such belief thereby altering his position,
  3. Then in a suit between the parties, the person who represented shall not be allowed to deny the truth of his representation.

Read: Plea Of Alibi Under The Indian Evidence Act

Exceptions to the doctrine of estoppel

  1. This doctrine does not apply to those matters where parties of the contract have knowledge of truthiness.
  2. This doctrine does not applies when both parties plead estoppel.
  3. This Doctrine does not apply to questions of law.
  4. This doctrine does not apply to the sovereign act of the government.
  5. This doctrine does not apply against a minor who fraudulently misrepresents his or her age.

In the case of B. Manjunath v. C.G. Srinivas AIR 2005 Kar 136, the Karnataka high court states that by this principle the plaintiff is estopped to go back to his representation. This is the doctrine of estoppel.


Estoppel, by record – It is also called res judicata. It is created by the decision of any competent court.  When any court decides finally on a subject then it becomes conclusive and the parties are bound by that decision. They cannot bring another suit on the same subject matter.

Estoppel by Conduct – It arises due to conduct by one party. When any party causes to believe by his conduct and other party acts upon such belief and alter its position then the first person is estopped from denying the statements which he had made earlier.

Estoppel by deed – When any person is bound to another person on the basis of a record regarding some new facts, the neither that person nor any person claiming through him shall be allowed to deny it.

[1] Section 115 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Vaishali Phull

Content Writer, Law Corner, Student of BBA LLB, 3rd Year, Sharda University

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