Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus
Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus is a Latin Maxim which in simple words
means that a person making contradictory allegations ought not be heard. This is
the principle of good faith that a person should not be allowed to testify hot
and cold at different times about the same event.
The legal maxim is also called 'estoppel' in legal parlance. The maxim means
that if a person states something in good faith on one event and says the
contrary about the same event that shall not be allowed. The contradiction in
the statements is likely to give the benefit of the doubt in cross-examinations
to invalidate the statements. Thus, it can be comprehended by the principle that
a person producing contradictory statements shall not be heard in a court of
The said Latin Maxim reads as under in Brooms Legal Maxims at page 103:
Allegans contraria non est audiendus" "this elementary rule of logic, which is
frequently applied in our Courts of Justice, will receive occasional
illustration in the course of this work. We may for the present observe that it
expresses, in other language, the trite saying of Lord Kenyon, that a man shall
not be permitted to "blow hot and cold" with reference to the same transaction,
or insist at different times, on the truth of each of two conflicting
allegations, according to the promptings of his private interest.
At page 197 of the same volume, we may, therefore, lay it down as a general
Rule, applicable alike in Law and Equity, that a party shall not entitle himself
to substantiate acclaim or, to enforce a defence, by reason of acts or nature
and quality; and further, that where misrepresentations have been made by one of
the two litigating parties, in his dealings with the other, a Court of Law will
either decline to interfere, or will so adjust the equities between them, as to
prevent an undue benefit from accruing to that party, who is unfairly
endeavouring to take advantage of his own wrong.
In Trayner's Latin Maxims, this maxim is referred to at page 41 of the 4th
Allegans contraria non-est audiendus: He is not to be heard who alleges things
contradictory of each other. For example no one can be heard to maintain that a
deed is invalid as regards some obligation, which it imposes on him, and yet
valid in so far as it confers upon him a right. In other words, no one is
permitted at the same time, to approbate and reprobate. It must be kept in view,
however, that this does not militate against what is fair alternate pleading.
Bigelow on Estoppel, six Edition, states the principle as follows:
If parties in Court were permitted to assume inconsistent positions in the trial
of their causes, the usefulness of Courts or justice would in most cases be
paralyzed the coercive process of the law, available only between those who
consented to its exercise, could be set at aught by all. But the rights of all
men, honest and dishonest are in keeping of the Courts, and consistency of
proceeding is therefore required of all those who come or are brought before
them. It may accordingly be laid down as a broad proposition that one, who,
without mistake induced by the opposite party, has taken a particular position
deliberately in the course of a litigation must act consistently with it, one
cannot play fast and loose.
It would be apposite to refer to the celebrated book titled 'Administrative Law'
by Sir William Wade (Eighth Edition by Wade and Forsyth -Oxford University
Press), the 'Estoppel' has been explained at p.242 as under:
"The basic principle of estoppel is that a person who by some statement or
representation of fact causes another to act to his detriment in reliance on the
truth of it is not allowed to deny it later, even though it is wrong. Justice
here prevails over truth. Estoppel is often described as a rule of evidence, but
more correctly it is a principle of law. As a principle of common law it applies
only to representations about past or present facts."
This Maxim dates back to almost 5 centuries. In Pickard v. Sears,
6 Ad & El 469, 474, it has been held that where a person "by his words or
conduct willfully causes another to believe the existence of a certain state of
things, and induces 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 same time."
It is worth mentioning that Section 115 of the Evidence Act incorporates a
salutary principle of common law based on the maxim allegans contraria non est
audiendus (a person alleging contradictory facts should not be heard).
Section 115 of the Evidence Act reads thus: 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."
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.
It would be trite to refer to B.S. Lail v. Sardar Mal Lalwani
, AIR 1964
M.P. 124, wherein the Madhya Pradesh High Court held thus:
In my opinion the contention raised on behalf of the plaintiff-appellant is
correct and ought to be accepted. It is well settled that a party cannot be
allowed to approbate and reprobate. This principle is based on the maxim "allegans
contraria non est audiendus" it mean she shall not be heard who says things
contradictory to each other. The maxim applies to proceedings in Court; it
creates a sort of estoppel.
In case of Vallapareddy Sumitra Reddy and others vs. Kasireddy Laxminarayana
Reddy and Ors.,2002(6)ALT645 it was held by the Hon'ble Andhra Pradesh High
Court that the principle of Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus means a party
cannot be allowed to approbate and reprobate. It means that no one shall state
contradictory things to each other. This maxim is applied in form of 'estoppel'
in the said court proceedings.
It would be apropos to refer to a judgment of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court (Srinagar
Bench) in Abdul Aziz Khan & another vs. Ghulam Mohd. Langoo
2021 AIR CC
2057, wherein the Court observed thus:
19.The principles, underlying aforesaid decisions, would clearly indicate that a
party cannot be permitted to change the stand which would frustrate the case of
other-side. This is the elementary rule of logic. It is well settled that a
person is not to be heard who alleges things contradictory to each other. As the
maxim goes allegans contraria non est audiendus.
Even the Supreme Court in a decision reported in Heeralal v. Kalyal Mal,
AIR 1998 SC 618, observed that once written statement contains admission in
favour of the plaintiff, by amendment such admission of defendants cannot be
allowed to be withdrawn, if such withdrawal would amount to totally displacing
the case of the plaintiff and which would cause him irretrievable prejudice. The
principle enunciated by the Supreme Court squarely applies to the fact situation
of the present case.
It would be appropriate to refer to the case of Transmission Corp. of A.P
Ltd. & Anr. vs Sai R.P.Pvt. Ltd. & Ors
(2010) INSC 498; (2011) 11 SCC 34,
wherein the Apex Court observed thus:
The parties can hardly deny the facts as they existed at the relevant time, just
because it may not be convenient now to adhere to those terms. Conditions of a
contract cannot be altered/avoided on presumptions or assumptions or the parties
having a second thought that a term of contract may not be beneficial to them at
a subsequent stage. They would have to abide by the existing facts, correctness
of which, they can hardly deny. Such conduct, would be hit by allegans contraria
non est audiendus.
The Apex Court in B.L. Sreedhar & Ors vs K.M. Munireddy (Dead) And Ors
2003 (2) SCC 355, dealing with this maxim held thus:
On the whole, an estoppel seems to be when, in consequences of some previous act
or statement to which he is either party or privy, a person is precluded from
showing the existence of a particular state of facts. Estoppel is based on the
maxim, allegans contrarir non est audiendus (a party is not be heard to allege
the contrary) and is that species of presumption juries et de jure- (absolute or
conclusive or irrebutable presumption), where the fact presumed is taken to be
true, not as against all the world, but against a particular party, and that
only by reason of some act done; it is in truth a kind of argumentum ad hominem.
It would be befitting to refer to Madras High Court judgment in Pappannan vs
2012 (3) MWN (Civil) 536, wherein it was held thus:
17. I recollect the maxim - falsus in uno, falsus
in omnibus false in one
thing, false in everything. This is not the maxim, which is recognised in India
and in the meantime, I cannot lose sight of one other maxim Allegans contraria
non est audiendus A person making contradictory allegations is not to be heard
and also the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court reported in (2012) 5 MLJ 618
(SC) [A.Shanmugam vs. Ariya Kshatriya Rajakula Vamsathu Madalaya Nandhavana
Paripalanai Sangam rep.by its President etc.]. Certain excerpts from it would
False and irrelevant pleas:
41. The appellant is also guilty of introducing untenable pleas. The plea of
adverse possession which has no foundation or basis in the facts and
circumstances of the case was introduced to gain undue benefit. The Court must
be cautious in granting relief to a party guilty of deliberately introducing
irrelevant and untenable pleas responsible for creating unnecessary confusion by
introducing such documents and pleas. These factors must be taken into
consideration while granting relief and/or imposing the costs"
It would be worthwhile to refer to the case of Gauhati High Court in the case of
Union of India v. Shyamal Paul decided on Sep 10, 2015 wherein the Court
At three different spells, three different dates are given from which period of
absence cannot be ascertained. The facts narrated are contrary to each other. It
is the basic tenet of law canonised in the dictum Allegans Contraria Non Est
(He is not be heard who alleges things contradictory to each
The Bombay High Court in Shalini Vyankatesh Puntambekar v. Jayaprakash R.
Agarwal (2002)2BOMLR52 discussed & applied this maxim & observed thus:
6. The principles underlying the aforesaid decisions would clearly indicate that
the party cannot be permitted to change the stand which would frustrate the case
of the other side. This is the elementary rule of logic. It is well settled that
he is not to be heard who alleges things contradictory to each other.
As the maxim goes Allegans Contraria Non Est Audiendus. Even the Apex Court in
the Decision reported in Heeralal's case (supra)
observed that once
written statement contains admission in favour of the plaintiff, by amendment
such admission of the defendants cannot be allowed to be withdrawn, if such
withdrawal would amount to totally displacing the case of the plaintiff and
which would cause him irretrievable prejudice."
Lastly, it would be apposite to refer to the case of Prince of Arcot
Endowments Estate v. Ponnuswami Nattar
, AIR 1955 NUC (Mad) 3924, wherein it
was observed thus:
"A party litigant cannot be permitted to assume inconsistent positions in Court
to play fast and loose, to blow hot and cold, to approbate and reprobate to the
detriment of his opponents. The principle is: Allegans contraria non est
audiendus. (He is not to be heard who alleges things contradictory to each
other.) This principle applies not only to successive stages of the same suit
but also to another suit provided that the second grows out of the judgment of
The aforementioned Maxim 'Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus' is undoubtedly
applicable in all legal proceedings under all different enactments and is a
cardinal rule of both Equity & Law.
Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]