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Analysis on Doctrine of Estoppel, The Indian Evidence Act,1872

The doctrine of estoppel serves as a crucial safeguard against fraud and misrepresentation. There are several cases where someone deceives an innocent person into believing a falsehood. There are situations where the plaintiff can have suffered significant losses. This way of thinking stays away from them and holds the offender accountable for his inappropriate actions.

This legal theory provides an incentive to anyone who attempts to make false statements about other people, instils faith in them to act on them, and causes them to lose money in the process.

The doctrine of estoppel, which is covered by Sections 115 to 117 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, forbids people from providing deceiving witnesses by preventing them from making contradictory claims in court. This philosophy seeks to prevent fraud from being committed by one individual against another. According to this principle, a person is responsible for whatever false statements they make, whether verbally or physically.

The definition of estoppel is included in Section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872. It states that once someone persuades someone else to act on something they believe to be true by their actions or lack of action, they cannot later in the suit or proceedings deny the truth of that belief. To put it simply, estoppel prohibits someone from denying, contradicting, or claiming that a prior statement they made in court was untrue.

  • A prosperous businessman named Ishita wants to buy a car. Her close friend Raman is the owner of an expensive classic car. When Ishita calls Raman to help her buy a car, he gives her the chance to purchase his car, which he has been getting ready to sell for some time. Ishita makes a car buy. At some point, Raman will own the car. Raman contends that when he sold the car to Ishita, he was not the legal owner. The judge decided that Raman would have to prove he was not entitled and that he would be responsible.
  • If Rishi works for company XYZ but subsequently claims in court that he is not an employee, he will not be able to collect his salary and benefits from that company.
Estoppel is more a part of substantive law than adjective law. However, it has been demonstrated that estoppels do not have the same standing as substantive law rules that are included in certain presumptions. Additionally, because estoppels do not involve claims, they typically do not give rise to a cause of action at common law. Nonetheless, it's been stated that they might support requests for equitable relief and could even serve as a defence if they prohibit a plaintiff from establishing certain crucial facts. Estoppels resemble substantive law in several ways.

Essential elements:

  • A person deceives others through his actions, omissions, or declarations.
  • This type of deception concerns the truthfulness of any fact.
  • It is purposefully done to lead someone to believe something.
  • It is believed to be true by another person.
  • It is carried out by another person with the belief that it is true.
  • It results in injury to another person.
  • It is done by a person who is unaware of the truth.


  • When both parties are fully informed about everything related to their subject matter, this doctrine is not applicable.
  • Statutes and regulations are immune from estoppel. It ought not to be in opposition to the laws and rules.
  • It wouldn't apply in situations where one party acted or made a decision beyond the scope of his authority.
  • It cannot be used against the government or sovereign acts.

Case Laws:

  • Estoppel is defined as a legal doctrine that forbids an individual from contradicting statements they have made in court. In Pickard v. Sears[1], the court determined that estoppel occurs when:
    • One party represents another by his words or deeds.
    • The other party cannot retract what he has spoken if, having believed what he has said, he acts upon it or changes his mind.
  • According to the ruling in the Pratima Chowdhury v. Kalpana Mukherjee[2] case, the position should be changed to the point where it would be illegal to revert it.
Section 116
According to the section, the tenant of the immovable property or anybody making a claim through such tenancy may argue that the landlord initially held title to the immovable property at the beginning of the tenancy.

The Section further states that an individual who obtained access to the immovable property through a license cannot dispute the fact that the owner of the property, or the person from whom the license was obtained, held title to the property at the time the license was obtained.

It focuses on the estoppels that exist between
  • the tenant and his landlord.
  • Licensor and licensee.
Title of the landlord cannot be denied
When a tenant and landlord establish a relationship, the tenant may object to any actions taken by the landlord during that time that conflict with the terms of the lease. This includes receiving ownership of the property and moving into the premises. Tenants never assert that the landlord is not the legal owner of the property.

Title at the beginning
The tenant cannot challenge the landlord's title at the beginning of the tenancy.
Tenants may, nevertheless, exercise a few rights, including:
  • He would not be prohibited from claiming that the property would be transferred or the title would be assigned to him rather than a third party upon the landlord's passing.
  • He could show that prior to the day the lease was signed, the landlord did not own any title to the property.
Case Laws:
  • In the case of Moti Lal v. Yar Md[3], the judge held that even after the landlord filed a complaint for default payment and ejectment, the tenant could not claim that the landlord no longer had any interest in the property. The landlord's title cannot be contested until after they have left ownership.
  • Suraj Bali Ram v. Dhani Ram[4] states that the landlord's title cannot be disputed until the tenant has left the property.
Section 117:
According to this clause, the person who is supposed to draw the bills cannot be denied from drawing or endorsing them by the person accepting the bills of exchange. Furthermore, neither the bailor nor the licensor may dispute that they had the right to grant a license or issue a bailment at the moment the bailment and licensing started.

The person taking receipt of the bills of exchange has the right to contest that the person who appeared to have drawn them actually did so. He can establish a third party's ownership rights over the commodities bailed against the bailor in the event that the bailor delivers the products to the wrong person instead of the bailee.

This provision clearly states that the person accepting the bills of exchange cannot deny that the person drawing them has the right to draw them or to endorse them, but they may dispute that the person drawing the bills did not actually draw them.

It cannot be disputed by the bailee or the licensor that the bailor or the licensor had the right to carry out the original terms of the bailment or grant. However, if the bailee can demonstrate that the third party, rather than the bailor, was entitled to the goods, they can use that evidence against the bailee.

One crucial idea that shields people from deception and fraud is the doctrine of estoppel. An innocent individual falls victim to deceptive statements conveyed to them by others on multiple occasions. There are situations when the plaintiff experiences significant losses. This theory prevents these circumstances and holds the offender accountable for his improper behaviour.

This legal principle forces individuals who attempt to deceive others and persuade them to act by placing their trust in them, as long as they refrain from acting on these false representations and avoid suffering losses as a result, as they risk facing consequences.

  • Law of Evidence by Avtar Singh.
Online Sources:
  • - accessed on 20th Oct 2023.
  • - accessed on 20th Oct 2023.
  • - accessed on 20th Oct 2023.
  • - accessed on 20th Oct 2023.
  1. (1837) 6 Ad & EL 469.
  2. AIR 2014 SC 1304.
  3. AIR 1925 All 275.
  4. AIR 1979 Ori 101.

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