Doctrine of promissory estoppel is based upon the general principles of equity, fairness, and morality. The general meaning of the doctrine of promissory estoppel means when a person with an intention of forming a relationship that is lawful makes a clear promise to another person and later the person performs on it, that the promise becomes an obligation for that person who made the promise. Therefore, going back from the words that you said is not permissible.
The purpose of this article is to study the concept of the doctrine of promissory estoppel and the evolution of the doctrine of promissory estoppel. There is no legal provision which talks about the concept of the doctrine of promissory estoppel but it is enforceable in India
Doctrine of estoppel in India has been defined under section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. As per this section, it is stated that “When an individual 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 representatives shall be allowed, in any suit or proceeding between himself and such person or his representatives, to deny the truth of that thing.”
Example: A intentionally and falsely leads B to believe that a certain portion of land belongs to A and thereby induces B to buy and pay for it.
And, the doctrine of promissory estoppel is related to the future promises whereas section 115 talks about the representations regarding existing facts.
What is Promissory Estoppel?
In contract law, the promissory estoppel is that stops an individual from going back on a promise even if a legal contract does not exist. The doctrine of promissory estoppels is based upon the principles of natural justice, fairness, and good conscience. This doctrine is evolved by equity to prevent injustice.
Promissory estoppel meaning is that when one person with an intention of forming legal relationships with the other person and makes a promise with that person and that party acts on it, that promise should be legally binding for the party who is making it. Then the party will not be allowed to go back from the words that he promised.
In the case of Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills v/s State of Utter Pradesh and Others,the Chief Secretary of the Government gives assurance that to establish industries firmly the total tax exemption
Evolution of Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel
The promissory estoppel talks about the rules of equity, fairness, a good conscience, and natural justice. The doctrine of promissory estoppel was originated in the Indian Law System in 1880.
This doctrine is defined under case Ganges Manufacturing Co. v/s Soorajmull, In this case, the Calcutta High Court held that when there is a promise was enforceable without consideration merely on the basis of interest and reliance of the contracting parties.
However, in the year 1892, the Madras High Court, dismissed the judgment of Calcutta High Court in the above case, the judgment was dismissed on the basis of interest and reliance and returned back to the traditional approach that without valid consideration there is no valid contract.
In Union of India v/s Anglo-Afghan Agencies, The complete meaning and definition of the doctrine of promissory estoppel have been given in this case.
Now, the doctrine of promissory estoppel is fully accepted in the whole of India. And, this doctrine is applied against the Government in a court of law.
Fundamental Principles of Promissory Estoppel
Following are some fundamental principles of the doctrine of promissory estoppel. If all the principles listed below are present in the contract then the doctrine of promissory estoppel is applicable by the court of law. These principles are;
1. Lawful Relationship
The first and most important principle of the doctrine of promissory estoppel is that there should be an existence of the lawful relationship and/or the relationship which is anticipated to exist between the two parties to the contract.
The other important principle of this doctrine is that there should pure and clear be displayed that a promise is made between the contracting parties that ultimately led to the aggrieved party to presume that some action needs to be taken thereof. Such promise should be reasonable and reliable.
One of the parties to the contract who is the aggrieved party must reliance on the promise and that made is displayed purely and clearly and because of that, the aggrieved party should take some action.
The next principle of the promissory estoppel is the aggrieved party has relied on the promise to the contract which made by another party must suffer from some sort of damage and/or loss which is ultimately land the other party in the worst position.
The last principle of promissory estoppel is that it must be clearly demonstrated that it was unjust for the promisor to break the promise to the contract.
Jurisprudence and Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel
This doctrine is an equitable doctrine that means it is like all equitable remedies, it is discretionary, etc. The doctrine of promissory estoppel is also known as ‘Equitable Estoppel’, ‘Quasi Estoppel’, and ‘New Estoppel’. This doctrine led down where one party with his words or by conduct made to other a clear promise which is intended to create certain legal relations or a future legal relation with knowingly or with the intention that is would be acted upon by the other, such promise would be binding upon the parties to the contract.
This doctrine of promissory estoppel is being applied by the Courts of Equity in England. But, in India, this rule of estoppel is a rule of evidence and can be found under section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. But, the doctrine of promissory estoppel does not come under the view of section 115. Therefore, this doctrine is a principle of equity.
Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel is based upon the general principles of equity, morality, and good conscience. But there are some restrictions on the applicability of this doctrine in India.
- Law of Contract – Bare Act 2021 Edition Professional
- The Indian Contract Act 1872 Bare Act 2021 Edition
- Law of Contract & Specific Relief Dr Avtar Singh Latest Edition-2020
- Pollock & Mulla – The Indian Contract Act, 1872
- CONTRACT Paper I – By R.K. Bangia [Edtion 2019 – 2020]
- CONTRACT Paper-II – By R. K. Bangia
- NOTES ON INDIAN CONTRACT ACT 1872: BEST NOTES FOR LAW STUDENTS